Following a plant-based diet is a path that more and more consumers are choosing today. However these diets – vegetarian, flexitarian, vegan or other variations – reduce consumption of certain animal-based products in favor of plant-based variations. Food producers are paying attention to this trend, as a walk through any supermarket will reveal. They’re serving up an increasingly vast array of plant-based products, from ‘burgers’ to ‘sausages’ to ‘fish’ fillets and beyond.
Despite all of these choices, it’s not enough to be ‘just’ plant-based to get tossed into the shopping cart. Today’s sophisticated consumer knows that nutrition matters, and their plant-based favorites need to deliver.
This starts with reading the label. Consumers expect transparency when it comes to their food: what’s in it, how it’s made and any healthful benefits it offers. Nearly 75 percent of consumers report that they’re looking at labels before purchasing a new product, and about half are checking these labels for added nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids1. This speaks to increasing awareness among consumers of the importance of nutrition in overall health and wellness. In addition, the events of the past year have only heightened this awareness, resulting in a boost in demand for fortified foods and beverages that deliver an added nutrient boost.
Today’s most common plant-based/greener diets offer some compelling nutritional benefits. Consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol is generally lower, while intake of fiber and folate, as well as vitamins B1 and C, is usually higher. But overall, traditional meat or fish contain a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals, providing several B-vitamins, iron, zinc, iodine and selenium. Most meat and fish alternatives lack these critical nutrients.
In fact, the number of meat alternatives that are nutritionally on par with their meat counterparts is quite small. To illustrate, only about 10% of all meat substitutes is fortified with iron and vitamin B12, while even fewer are fortified with the other B vitamins and vitamin D2. Using some common examples, a vegetarian burger containing mostly soy that mimics beef in taste and texture provides vitamin B2, but it’s lacking in other important B vitamins, iron and zinc. Similarly, a pea-based product that mimics fish also contains vitamin B2 but lacks most of the others, as well as omega-3 and vitamin D (among other micronutrients) as compared to traditional fish.
For consumers, the challenge is to ensure they’re getting all the essential nutrients when following a plant-based diet. The products that stand out on the shelves will be those that can match the nutrient profile of their traditional counterparts by offering a compelling and healthful nutritional profile.
20 April 2021
DSM’s Fortifull™ Nutrition Guide highlights the missing micronutrients in plant-based alternatives compared to their meat and fish counterparts, while taking into account the naturally occurring micronutrients in your plant-based product.
Creating these stand-out plant-based products requires producers to achieve a trifecta of key attributes: taste (of course), authentic texture and more than ever, sound nutrition. For the latter, a desirable nutritional profile starts with minding – and filling in – that micronutrient gap. To help producers rise to this challenge, DSM recently launched an interactive Fortifull™ Nutrition Guide designed to help develop delicious and nutrient-rich plant-based products.
In five clear steps, the Fortifull™ Nutrition Guide takes user input on the type of product, region and base protein of the product and highlights the missing micronutrients in the plant-based alternative, in comparison with their traditional (beef/pork, poultry or fish) counterpart. Armed with a clear overview of the nutritional gaps, producers can preview a range of solutions to fill these, and even go beyond with added fortifications, and then access the relevant nutrition and health claim suggestions. The Guide also delivers a wealth of supporting information, such as white papers that provide detailed information about each micronutrient, its sources and recommended daily intakes.
One partner to explore your plant-based possibilities
At DSM, we recognize that nutrition and transparency matter to today’s consumers. By providing our customers with a broad portfolio of solutions for plant-based alternatives and guidance like the Fortifull™ Nutrition Guide, we help them unlock the full potential of their plant-based products and deliver a range of appealing and nutrient-rich options to consumers.