The rise of non-dairy alternatives

While the plant-based protein market is becoming more crowded with new sources, long-standing player, soy, has managed to stay relevant to consumers, according to Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)

The soy protein market is expected to reach $5.89 billion by 2022 growing at a rate of 6.6% annually, with North America remaining as the dominant market, a MarketsandMarkets reports estimated.

“Soy is very well known and is in fact one of the most widely consumed plant-based proteins in the world,” said Mark Rainey, VP of Global Food Marketing at ADM.

“Consumers told us that their overall sentiment and perception towards soy is positive with more than 70% of people thinking soy is ‘good’ or ‘great’.”

One such investment was the acquisition of WILD Flavors & Fragrances in 2014 that allowed ADM to design new plant-based proteins and blends while leveraging its natural taste, flavour and masking technologies.

Reducing reliance on dairy

“We continue to invest in soy and a wide array of other plant-based proteins, blends and complete systems to ensure we have the widest portfolio to meet evolving consumer tastes and preferences,” said Rainey.

ADM’s CLARISOY portfolio of plant-based protein ingredients is designed to help reduce developers’ and manufacturers’ reliance on dairy while stabilising cost and boosting nutrition to create vegan versions of coffee creamers, non-dairy desserts, cheeses and nutritional beverages, according to the company.

ADM has also found that through surveying and research that consumer attitude towards soy as protein source is positive with more than half of respondents viewing it as an ideal alternative to animal-based protein, according to the company’s OutsideVoice proprietary research platform.

Rainey added that survey respondents’ approval of soy hit 95% when they were offered additional information about the plant-based protein, such as requiring a small fraction of the natural resources needed to produce animal protein.

“A shift like this is remarkable and something we see time and time again. It tells us that people want more information about key ingredients, like soy, in their foods,” he said.

Rising flexitarian trend

Along with non-dairy alternatives, the growing flexitarian trend has proliferated into various food and beverage products, especially RTD drinks.

“Manufacturers are responding in many ways, and we are continuing to see tremendous renovation and innovation in the rise of non-dairy, plant-based proteins,” Rainey said.

One trend that has emerged is the rise of hybrid drinks that combine dairy and non-dairy sources of protein.

According to Kati Ledbetter, Senior Manager of Food Research at ADM, soy also has also offers several advantages compared to other plant-based sources.

“Soy is probably the most comparable to dairy when it comes to the protein quality — it is going to be more of a complete protein source,” said Ledbetter.

ADM works with its customers to develop a formula using a balance of CLARISOY plant-based ingredients, as well as flavour and taste ingredients made from dairy milk, cream, cheese and butter.

“In many cases, especially for nutrition bars and beverages, a blend of both dairy and plant-based protein is attractive to consumers and also helps product developers achieve the desired taste, nutrition and texture of the finished product,” ADM President of proteins, Bruce Bennett.