5 Trends in Plant-Based Foods to Watch for in 2023

by | Apr 19, 2023 | plant-based foods

Top view looking down of four places setting of soup, with two people (arms only) eating that and other plant-based food trends.

Plant-based foods are gaining popularity as consumer trends focus on health- and eco-conscious options in retail and food service establishments. As the future of food evolves, customers will find more plant-based options on shelves and menus. These trends range from the type of foods consumed to the technology that makes these foods possible. Let’s review the top five plant-based food trends changing the landscape of food production in 2023.

Key Takeaways:

  • Plant-based food options include animal protein replacements, including plant-based beef, chicken, egg, bacon, and seafood. 
  • Fungi-derived proteins are gaining popularity over other plant-based animal protein alternatives.  
  • One key plant-based food trend combines ingredients and processes across three production platforms – plant-based, cultivation, and fermentation – to produce hybrid plant-based foods.
  • Over 40% of global consumers trust environmental claims brands and food producers make and tend to favor brands taking these sustainability initiatives.
  • Burger King has two locations in London that are fully vegan, and more restauranteurs are investing in vegan-only establishments as more people move to plant-based or flexitarian diets.

5 Plant-Based Food Trends in 2023    

Several exciting plant-based food trends emerged last year, from plant-based milk alternatives to the rise of meat-free protein replacements. Eco-conscious customers are looking for sustainable business practices in their food suppliers, while manufacturers look for ways to improve supplier relations to manage supply chain issues with plant-based products. The future of food is evolving, and here are the latest plant-based food trends to watch in 2023.

1. Animal Protein Replacements (APR)   

APRs are plant-based meatless food options, like Burger King’s Impossible Burger or Tyson’s Chicken plant-based chicken nuggets. The popularity of APRs varies from different regions worldwide, with Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific (APAC) leading the APR food market. Yet, it isn’t all just burgers and nuggets. Egg-free liquid eggs, vegan bacon, and plant-based seafood are transforming menus and finding their way onto the grocer’s shelves.

Infographic of the regional differences in plant-based market trends

Image Courtesy of Bright Green Partners

2. Fungi-Derived Proteins

Fungi-derived proteins have come a long way since their introduction in 1985. Food producers can develop fungi-derived protein products quickly and in large quantities through biomass fermentation, which demands a little bit of land and resources. Also, the natural fibrous texture of fungi emulates assorted cuts and types of meats. 

Famers can grow some species to create flavors that taste like meat and seafood, while others choose to grow their fungi with more neutral flavors. Some – known as adaptogenic – are popular ingredients in a new generation of alcohol-free beer. Food producers also desire the nutritional profile of fungi because they are rich in: 

  • Protein
  • Minerals
  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary fiber
  • Vitamins

More recently, sales of fungi-derived protein in supermarkets have been dramatically rising. Recent reports predict the global fungi market will double in value by 2030. With countless ways to source fungi proteins, this trend in plant-based foods shows no sign of slowing down. 

3. Cultivation and Fermentation 

One key plant-based food trend for 2023 combines ingredients and processes across three production platforms – plant-based, cultivation, and fermentation – to produce hybrid plant-based foods. These hybrid products are animal product replacements with optimal nutritional, sensory, and functional attributes. Lab-grown meats are “meatier” than veggie burgers – the original plant-based vegan option. Through cultivation and fermentation, food producers can create meatless meat alternatives that actually taste like the meat it is meant to replace.

With plant-based meat alternatives that taste like meat, food producers find these methods support an easier transition to plant-based diets. Furthermore, as the global range of products expands and improves, more customers are considering a “flexitarian” diet, where they don’t eliminate meat products. Instead, they consume a combination of plant-based foods with a limited amount of animal proteins. 

While food producers still struggle with infrastructure surrounding novel hybrid formulations, the promise of lower production costs, reduced environmental impact, and the overall quality improved product quality make these processes worth exploring. 

4. Sustainable, Plant-Based Packaging  

Consumers want more than plant-based options in what they eat. Many want plant-based sourcing for packaging. “Made from recycled material” isn’t enough anymore, and consumers expect brands to consider their environmental impact and turn to plant-based packaging. Over 40% of global consumers are becoming more trusting of environmental claims brands and food producers make, and eco-conscious consumers are favoring brands taking these sustainability initiatives.

Image of plant-based water bottle

Image Courtesy of For the Better Good

5. Vegan Fast Food 

In recent years, there has been a rise in vegan options at fast-food restaurants. However, restauranteurs are venturing into new waters by opening more vegan-only establishments. In partnership with The Vegetarian Butcher, Burger King opened pop-up restaurants in Basel and Geneva, Switzerland. These pop-up stores were used to gauge consumer interest in new plant-based products that are 100% vegan. By the end of the summer of 2022, Burger King announced the pop-up locations would become permanent and be the only two fully vegan fast food restaurants in London. 

Globally, other fast food establishments are expanding their plant-based menus. For example, ice cream brands that cater to restaurants are developing vegan desserts. Mousse manufacturers are reformulating their mixes to allow chefs the freedom to use milk alternatives without compromising texture or taste. Consumers will expect more fast-food establishments catering to their desire for more plant-based food options in 2023.

Discover the Latest Plant-Based Food Trends at SIAL America Food Show

At SIAL America, we offer personalized networking opportunities for food suppliers and buyers to connect and discuss food and beverage trends impacting the industry. Attend top-tier seminars from industry visionaries and explore the expansive show floor featuring categories such as meat, dairy, bakery, and plant-based food trends from all over the world. 

Attend our next show to learn more about the latest plant-based food trends you can expect to see in 2023 and beyond. Have an innovative idea to share? Become an exhibitor.