The plant-based foods market presents a brilliant opportunity for brands to attract an ever-growing audience of vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians. Since 2020, the number of vegan products available to consumers has increased by 23%, and the market is expected to reach 77.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2025.
Despite this, sales of plant-based products have recently plateaued or dipped. Our latest whitepaper reveals a possible reason for this, identified by our recent plant-based trends survey. Early adopters – the key group that turns a trend into a mass-market shift – are trying plant-based products and saying, “I will never buy this again” because the food doesn't meet their expectations.
Brands must ensure they launch products that delight customers, encourage future sales, and create new habits to maintain demand for plant-based products.
What Expectations are Brands not Meeting?
In our whitepaper, we explore four key barriers holding consumers back from eating more plant-based products. One of these is recipe inspiration. Consumers want to eat more meat-free meals, but struggle to find ideas for what to make.
Cooking is a powerful habit that’s difficult to change. It’s easy for consumers to give up because the effort it takes to build new cooking habits is so great.
Dedicated plant-based consumers will seek out meal ideas themselves, but newcomers are more reserved. They often want to replicate meals they already enjoy and are likely to flee if new ideas are too difficult to find or recipes and ingredients feel alien to them.
This means brands need to work hard to ensure their products are easy to use and incorporate into daily life. The easier it is, the more likely consumers will make cooking with your plant-based products a habit.
How can you Inspire Consumers and Drive Demand for Plant-Based Products?
You’ll probably know lots of ways to make your product into a meal, but chances are consumers won’t have your know-how. So, try developing recipes centered around your products to help consumers see the versatility and simplicity of using them in cooking. Create a variety of meals to suit different tastes, and include some recipes consumers are more familiar with, e.g. a meatless spaghetti bolognese.
Once you’ve got a batch of recipes, share them!
Put Recipes on the Packaging
Including a recipe on the packaging is convenient in many ways. It makes it easy for consumers to follow instructions without needing a mobile device. It's also helpful in-store as consumers can buy other ingredients they need for the recipe while they are there.
It could also help to cinch a sale. More than 60% of shoppers observed in a piece of research read the front of food product packaging. If you signpost that there’s a recipe on the back and it sounds tantalizing, they might be more likely to try your product. Remember that packaging research can help you to test and validate designs as you develop them, so you get the most from your packaging in-store and online.
You could even make the whole pack a meal kit to make things simpler. For example, the vegan and vegetarian brand, Linda McCartney’s, sells kits to make meat-free pulled pork bao buns and hoisin duck wraps. And restaurants have started doing this, too. Dishoom, renowned for food that pays homage to Irani cafes in Bombay, sells a vegan sausage naan roll kit that customers can order online.
Build a Recipe Section on Your Website
When a consumer buys one of your products and becomes more familiar with your brand, they’re more likely to want to visit your website for information.
A recent case study from Randall Beans revealed that, by sharing quality recipes on their website and social media channels, web traffic increased by 43% and pageviews by 64%. So, it’s a good idea to include your bespoke recipes on your website.
Many plant-based food brands are already doing this. Meatless Farm has recipes for each of its products, as well as a downloadable cookbook created by meat eaters and veggies who want to live more sustainably. Recipes include Singapore-style noodles, meatless grilled chicken pomodoro, and glazed meatless hot dogs.
Violife, which sells cheese alternatives, has curated a variety of sweet and savory recipes that are simple to make, including mushroom poppers, roast onion squash risotto, and creamy peach tart.
Join High-Profile Campaigns
You could also get involved in campaigns that encourage consumers to eat more plant-based foods.
Veganuary is designed to get people to go vegan for January and is extremely popular. 629,000 people took part in the 2022 campaign, and more than 1,540 new vegan products and menus were launched for it. Businesses can get involved by making donations, running supporting Veganuary campaigns, and featuring in recipe ingredients lists.
Meatless Monday is another similar initiative. It’s a global program that encourages people to reduce their meat intake by eating meatless meals on Mondays. Businesses can get involved by running programs to promote it.
Collaborate With Other Brands
There are lots of opportunities for collaboration that’ll help to broaden your reach and inspire consumers to try your recipes and products.
Grocery stores often publish magazines for shoppers to enjoy. These include articles on different ingredients, food products, and drinks, as well as recipes for readers to try. Brands often feature in these magazines alongside supermarket own-brand items to showcase the range of products available.
Recipe box subscriptions like Gousto, Hello Fresh, All Plants, and Mindful Chef all provide their customers with pre-portioned ingredients and recipes so they can easily rustle up delicious meals. Box brands partner with various food brands to do this, so it’s a great opportunity for you to inspire consumers with even more plant-based meals made with your produce.
Celebrities and influencers can also share inspiration and product recipes. Quorn has recently partnered with Drew Barrymore to do just this. She’s now the Chief Mom Officer for Quorn USA and will be helping to create recipes and develop new products to provide healthy food that’s good for the planet.
Another way to inspire consumers and increase demand for plant-based products is to diversify your product range. A good example of this is how Tofoo has extended its range of tofu products. As tofu is known for being difficult to work with, Tofoo created products that take the hard work out of preparing and cooking it.
They now sell pre-marinated tofu, scrambled tofu, straight-to-wok tofu, and crispy tofu that you can just put in the oven. These products are perfect examples of a brand understanding its customers’ pain points and taking action to solve them. A crucial part of that journey is shopper research, product testing, and packaging research. You need to ensure your products meet shopper expectations and stand out enough to convince them to choose them when they’re browsing.
Drive Demand for Your Plant-Based Products
Whether you’re new to plant-based food products or an established brand, it’s crucial that you support consumers with inspiration to help them eat more plant-based meals. That inspiration will help convert them into loyal customers by making plant-based meals a habit.