New Product Development and Plant-Based Ingredients: Overcome the Obstacles

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Are you struggling to resolve the hurdles of using plant-based ingredient in your portfolio?

Consumer demand for plant-based ingredients continues, and suppliers are working hard to meet  that demand. However, it’s challenging to use these ingredients in new products because:

  • the ingredients lack consistency,
  • the science on functionality and health benefits is emerging, and
  • the solutions require multiple stakeholders.

Why is consistency important?  

When consumers are loyal to their favorite brands, they expect a consistent experience. However, as our clients expand their plant-based portfolios they find that plant-based ingredients are complicated, and certainly not always consistent.

Compared to established ingredients – think cane sugar – new plant-based ingredients often have surprisingly little if any breeding or processing optimization. This makes it impossible to avoid fluctuations in the physical characteristics of the ingredient and its functionality in products. The result? Food and beverage companies struggle to find plant-based ingredients that deliver a consistent finished product, much to the dismay of consumers.

How does the emerging science complicate plant-based ingredients’ use?

Food and beverage companies that work with plant-based ingredients aim to

  • characterize how ingredients will function,
  • ensure product health benefits, and
  • attain desirable sensorial attributes.

But the expansive class of new ‘plant-based ingredients’ comprises a seemingly infinite number of sources. And each is distinct in composition and form, pointing to evident gaps in our scientific knowledge. There’s a reason you can get a degree in dairy science, but you can’t get one in chickpea science. The science is emerging and so the goals of the consumer products companies aren’t always realized.

What are the benefits of multi-stakeholder solutions?

The lack of established research is a burden falling heavily on the shoulders of food and beverage manufacturers.  How will we see improvements in understanding and use of plant-based ingredients? Through more collaboration between academics and industry experts across the supply chain. Researchers, breeders, ingredient processors, and food manufactures all play a role in improving the understanding, consistency, and adoption of plant-based ingredients in the market, and, accordingly, in your portfolio.

For complex, multi-stakeholder challenges we use a systems-thinking approach. We ensure that key stakeholders across the plant-based ingredient space understand the issues and implications related to your product development needs. We dive deep into the literature to assess the current state of the science.  Acting as the bridge between academia and industry, we translate technologies and optimize both product development and analytical methods. Our knowledge matrices are based on your needs and provide understanding of the landscape of stakeholders and technology. As a result, you understand what to do today, how you can collaborate tomorrow, and which future options will address problems across the supply chain.

We aren’t there yet—chickpea science is far from established—but by working together we can ease the burden of using plant-based ingredients.

What plant-based ingredient problem can we help you solve? Get in touch.

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