Accelerating New Product Development with Plant-Based Ingredients

How can ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers accelerate the development and delivery of plant-based foods to meet the ever-growing consumers’ desires for protein alternatives that

· support health,
· provide dietary variety,
· encompass sustainability, and
· taste great?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, intentional strategies that incorporate innovation, technology, and foresighting can accelerate your new product development.

Today, many plant-based ingredients and products struggle because they don’t deliver on sensory or functional attributes (e.g., non-dairy melting cheese), can’t be made at scale, or are too costly. Manufacturers need to overcome these limitations to unlock new products that consumers can enjoy in the short term while keeping sight of strategic investments that will fuel future competitive innovation.

What are the strategic opportunities where diligent research and targeted investments will pay dividends moving forward?

Address Taste and Functionality: Now and Later

Plant-forward foods must deliver on taste. Period. While it’s true that consumers’ palettes are evolving, taste continues to dictate food choices. For products that deliver on taste, consumers are still making trade-offs between functionality and price, which may vary with the product type and meal occasion (smoothie versus grilled cheese sandwich).

The future of plant-based products is not in just mimicking the quality or nutrition of animal-based counterparts. The future is in exceeding these and other product attributes. Existing innovations in processing, enzymes, and blending can help you overcome flavor, texture, and functionality challenges you face now. Delivering cost and nutritional parity will require longer-term additional developments in the plant-based ingredient eco-system.

Understand and Control the Supply: With Sustainability Benefits, Too

Processing approaches to modify the plant proteins’ physical and chemical properties continue to evolve. Pulses and grains may rule today, but challenges with oats, beans, algae, and canola are quickly being resolved. Unique technologies (e.g., improving protein-fat interactions) are generating new opportunities for plant-based fibers and up-cycling of plant materials. Many companies are leveraging patents and exclusive licensing agreements to control and limit access to these valuable innovations by just a few players.

Anticipate Future Trends: Most Importantly, Be Ready for Them

Clients ask us how to make better strategic decisions and inform their long-range strategic planning. We use foresighting to help clients understand how the food ecosystem may evolve and what that means for their core products, business, and new opportunities. Why? Because this approach provides insights into longer time horizons and is beneficial when uncertainty is high, and organizations don’t know how industry forces will unfold.

For example, our insights indicate current consumers are passing down belief systems coupled with food choices that could dramatically influence their children’s palate and future purchasing behaviors. Foresighting helps you consider what this could mean in the future for your products and how you can be ready for future consumer interests and actions.

From identifying emerging opportunities and unmet customer needs to accelerating new ideas through product development to market launch and building strategic partnerships that provide long-term growth, we unlock your innovation potential.

How can we bring fresh perspectives to your toughest innovation challenges?

RTI Innovation Advisors helps clients turn insights into new products, services & technologies that have meaningful human and business impact. Feed of RTI Int’l