In March, Distrifood reported that 2019 saw the strongest growth ever in the sale of meat alternatives. The data and marketing research firm Nielsen calculated a 30% increase. This trend – which is expected to continue– has also contributed to the demand for and development of greater variety in meat alternatives. In 2020, shoppers can not only find vegetarian burgers on the shelves of their local supermarket, but also plant-based alternatives to minced meat and sausages. What’s more: various suppliers – like PLNT for example – even offer a range of vegetarian stir-fry strips and sandwich fillings. This extensive choice of plant-based options is appreciated by consumers and retailers alike. The Vomar supermarket chain for example has already included several PLNT plant-based sandwich fillings in its product range.

Innovative products are becoming more and more popular – and particularly plant-based products. Retail buyers and franchisees are actively seeking out new options to present to their customers. With a full 10 metres of vegan products, Jumbo Foodmarkt in Groningen ranks as the Netherlands’ number one player in this segment. So it comes as no surprise that this supermarket was the first to stock its shelves with PLNT’s plant-based variants. Jumbo Heemskerk has also opted for PLNT products, in the aisle section that is filled with the local entrepreneur’s selections. When asked about this new trend, Laurens Zandbergen, Marketing Manager at Future Food Group (the organisation behind the PLNT product range), says: “Indeed, we’ve noticed that local entrepreneurs are increasingly looking at plant-based innovations to fill their free shelf space. They can see a growing demand for greater variety in their vegetarian range and are often personally motivated to choose such products for sustainability and health considerations. Which is why they are interested in programmes that are both innovative and offer something to everyone’s taste.”

No longer just ‘meat, veg and potatoes’

Future Food Group Innovation Manager Jos Havekotte has an explanation for this growing demand for variety: “The new generation of buyers are increasingly choosing stir-fry and pasta options rather than the traditional ‘meat, veg and potatoes’ favoured by their parents and grandparents. In this approach, meat is no longer the centre of the entire meal, but merely one of several ingredients – and one that can be easily swapped for a meat alternative or some other sustainable source of protein.” This does call for a suitable range of products to choose from, though. Havekotte: “In the old days, you would have these dry cubes of bean curd that had to be marinated for hours to get some flavour. This no longer ‘cuts it’. Fortunately, today’s stir-fry alternatives are vastly improved – and a lot tastier.”

In terms of bite, texture, flavour and application options, meat alternatives are becoming increasingly similar to regular meat-based products.

Great for a healthy sandwich too

For a long time, it was hard to find decent plant-based alternatives to sliced meats. Thanks to targeted innovation and product development, several suppliers have succeeded in producing tasty new variants. Havekotte: “In terms of bite, texture, flavour and application options, meat alternatives are becoming increasingly similar to regular meat-based products. Sandwich fillings are one of the latest segments where we come across very interesting new applications.”

In addition to texture and taste, the market is showing a growing interest in the nutritional value of meat alternatives. Salt content is increasingly a subject of discussion, for example. “With good reason,” says Havekotte. “Although it does make the development of flavourful meat alternatives a bit more challenging,” he adds. Judging by his enthusiastic expression, he looks forward to taking on this challenge. “PLNT’s slogan is: Good for today, best for tomorrow. We focus on the health of both our planet and people. When we’re developing a recipe, it is only logical that we don’t just pay attention to taste and texture but also to nutritional value.” Havekotte names PLNT’s vegetarian sandwich fillings as an example: they’re low in saturated fats and a source of vitamin B12, iron and protein. “And they’re gluten-free. Allergies and intolerances are also points that we try to take on board as far as possible when we develop our products,” concludes Havekotte.

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PLNT’s innovative range and local success haven’t gone unnoticed. A growing number of entrepreneurs are interested in PLNT’s offer. And starting in Week 37, consumers who are looking for plant-based sandwich fillings can shop to their heart’s content at Vomar. As of that week, the supermarket will be stocking its shelves with 4 new variants from PLNT’s plant-based line, namely:
• PLNT Chicken Breast Plain (vegetarian)
• PLNT Chicken Bread Garden Herbs (vegetarian)
• PLNT Pork Shoulder (vegan)
• PLNT Luncheon Meat (vegan)

Retail buyers, franchisees, local branches and wholesalers who are interest in PLNT’s range of plant-based innovations are welcome to get in touch with Future Food Group via tel. no. 0412 257 770 or email contact@futurefoodgroup.nl.

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