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Trends & Insights

Hybrid - the best of two worlds

A growing number of consumers are adapting some of the principles of the vegetarian kitchen while still enjoying the taste, flavors and nutritional advantages of the traditional kitchen with animal proteins.
The trend paves the way for new hybrid ingredient options.
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Flex 800X600
Among consumer trends, we often see an urge to explore and to mix and blend the traditional ways of thinking. An increasing trend is flexitarianism, where consumers mix their intake of meat with plant-based products. These consumers explore the best of the culinary kitchen – through adapting some of the principles of the vegetarian kitchen while still enjoying the taste, flavors and nutritional advantages of the traditional kitchen with animal proteins. Flexitarians focus on creating the optimum diet for their health and living and on increasing their well-being without missing out on favorite meals. They do – so to speak – seek the best of two worlds.


An increasing trend in consumer behavior

The media often focus on the importance of a plant-based diet as good for your health and our climate. But we should never ignore the benefits of animal proteins and that these proteins are crucial for our health, for bones, tissue, skin etc. Animal proteins cover many of the important proteins our body needs. Consumers have, therefore, found a way that includes both, and the nutritious arguments for a various diet can probably explain why the flexitarian lifestyle has become so popular. It is an interesting mix of both worlds and seems like an appealing compromise.

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When looking over a 5-year period at the categories: Meat, Fish & Eggs; Ready Meals & Side Dishes; Sauces & Seasonings; Soup; Spreads, the Vegetarian claim comes in fourth on the top 5 list of claims on new product launches on a global scale (Innova Market Insights 2020).

Replacing meat with plant-based alternatives is only viable if consumers can easily accept the new formats being offered. For flexitarians in particular, the unique sensory attributes of meat – aroma, taste, texture – are highly valued and thus important drivers for new creative hybrid products.

Important proteins

Proteins, often supplied through foods, are necessary for a healthy living, because they help build muscle fibers, improve the immune system and support vital functions. Until now, most of us have found the necessary amount of proteins through animal sources, but the flexitarian trend has given a new perspective and made us look into possible vegetables which can supply a good amount of proteins.

Everything in moderation

The term “Everything in moderation” is the keyword in living as a flexitarian, because there is no rulebook to follow and no strict set of guidelines on how to be a flexitarian. The principle is to live healthy and keeping a flexitarian lifestyle can be completely custom-made for your everyday life.

A growing market

Flexitarian lifestyle is becoming more and more popular, and through the last 5 years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people living as flexitarians1. We adapt the principles into our daily living, into family- and business life. The mix of plant-based products and the traditional meat-based products is definitely here to stay. Consumers request high-quality products available on the shelves in the supermarkets, and there are unexplored opportunities in this market. One thing is for sure, this market will continue to grow, and the food industry has to develop new ways of satisfying this new group of consumers.

A good place to start for food manufacturers that want to tap into the flexitarian trend is hybrid ingredient blends. A hybrid blend provides functional and nutritional benefits from both plant-based and animal-based ingredients. An example of this is Essentia’s most recent ingredient launch that combines pork and pea protein.