Amidst all the hype over plant-based foods, it’s easy to think that it’s the only strategy in town – and the only way to get around environmental concerns about meat and dairy.
True, many people want to eat less meat and dairy and eat more plants, specifically vegetables. But many consumers don’t want to give up altogether on their favorite everyday foods – and nor do they want to miss out on the taste and nutritional benefits of meat or dairy.
Between these poles, in the grey area where consumers’ best intentions meet their love of meat and dairy, lies an emerging opportunity: “hybrid” products.
“A ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ strategy gives flexitarian consumers permission to indulge in favourite foods like meat, dairy and bakery – they can eat them and feel no guilt,” says Julian Mellentin, director of consultancy New Nutrition Business and author of a newly-published strategy briefing on the hybrid opportunity. “And while it’s currently a niche opportunity, it’s already earning companies significant price premiums of up to 140% over regular non-hybrid products.”
It’s early days and a white-space opportunity, but emerging steadily. New Nutrition Business believes that within five years, hybrid products will have a 3%-5% market share in many categories.
From meatballs with mushroom to bread with beetroot, hybrid products deliver traditional foods along with a significant portion – at least 20% – of plant-based ingredients. Many successful products, such as Fazer’s vegetable breads, go up to 30% and more.
The terms ‘blended and ‘hybrid’ are starting to be more widely used by product developers and strategists, and plants are increasingly showing up as a prominent ingredient in categories where you wouldn’t traditionally expect to find them. The new emerging blends are:
- Plants + good carbs
- Plants + meat
- Plants + dairy
These blends can be found in many categories including snacking, bread, cakes, burgers, dairy drinks, ice-cream, breakfast cereal and many others.
“A surge of creative product development means that within a few years, a convenient vegetable content in bread and bakery, chips and snacks and many other categories will be everyday and unremarkable,” says Mellentin.
Companies already innovating in this area include both start-ups and established businesses such as Perdue, Hormel, Applegate Farms and Finnish bakery giant Fazer.