Sustainability series

Green horizons: Exploring the plant-based movement in food science

This blog is the first of the “1-2-Taste sustainability” series which addresses plant-based products’ challenges, waste reduction, and much more.
In this first article, we dive into the rising plant-based movement and share some ingredients inspirations for the R&D teams that want to create tasty vegan food products that consumers can trust.

Why are plant-based proteins capturing Europe’s appetite, and why should you take note?

The plant-based protein wave is sweeping across Europe, propelled by a conscious shift among consumers towards choices that promise health and harmony with the environment. The market is responding with gusto, as evidenced by the projected growth of the Europe Plant Protein Market from 3.45 billion USD in 2024 to 4.28 billion USD by 2029, at a CAGR of 4.41%1. This shift isn’t just about personal health—it’s about a collective future.

European consumers are increasingly embracing legumes, with 43% looking to substitute animal-based foods with plant-based options, 52% planning to increase their consumption, and 53% intending to boost their purchases of such products. This shift is primarily motivated by health reasons for 47% of consumers, concerns about animal welfare (29%) and environmental impact (26%).2

In light of recent upheavals within the plant-based industry, including notable companies like Beyond Meat and Oatly facing hard times, it’s understandable to question the industry’s viability. However, such challenges are not unique; this scenario mirrors the typical “trough of disillusionment” in Gartner’s Hype Cycle echoing the trajectory of other disruptive technologies like AI and electric cars3. Just as solar panels faced scepticism in the 80s before becoming a staple of renewable energy, the plant-based movement is in a transformative phase.

Eager to understand how this shift impacts customers’ plates and your business?

Main trends in the protein transition and plant-based products

plant based diet

Nutrition forward: Harnessing plant power for healthier living

With 55% of European consumers recognizing the health benefits of plant-based food alternatives and 46% associating them with weight management, the appeal of high-protein plant-based products is broadening2. This interest comes from consumers looking to improve their physical condition to those aiming for better nutritional content in their diets. Typically, recognising the benefits of a healthy plant-based diet leads to encouraging the adoption of this lifestyle to partners, children, friends and larger family. To avoid allergen concerns posed by the use of soy, the ProteoSMART line from Anderson Advanced Ingredients carefully blends different plant protein sources from EU to offer the right nutritional profile while catering to Non-GMO, KETO, and diabetic-friendly diet preferences.

Plant-powered generations: Veganism’s rise among Europe’s youngsters

The movement towards plant-based diets is gaining momentum, with about 45% of Europeans committed to flexitarian, vegetarian, or vegan eating habits for over two years2. Notably, the vegan population expected to increase from 6.62 million in 2023 to around 8.25 million.4 Compared to the other generations, this growth is notably seen among the EU’s Gen Z population, with adoption rates of vegetarianism at 7%, veganism at 4%, and pescatarianism at 5%, indicating a significant shift towards plant-based eating among younger Europeans2. This demographic trend not only highlights changing dietary preferences but also signals a growing market for plant-based products. We all know the troubles with replacing eggs but let’s forget about them: because Nexxus Foods has two egg alternative solutions that can enrich vegan products nutritionally, functionally, sustainably and even costly (given the current egg prices).

Nexxus egg replacer
graph Greenhouse gas protein source
Source: Semba, R.D. et al. Legumes as a sustainable source of protein in human diets. Global Food Security. Volume 28, March 2021, 100520.

Greenprint for the future: Plant-based solutions for environmental health

With 54% of EU consumers believing in the environmental benefits of plant-based food alternatives2, the sustainability argument for plant-based diets is robust. The production of meat, dairy, and eggs accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing the entire transportation sector.5 In contrast, plant-based alternatives offer a dramatically lower carbon footprint; for instance, a plant-based protein’s emissions derived from grains are eight times less than those of beef.6 The potential environmental impact of shifting towards plant-based diets is profound, promising significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a more sustainable food system. Reaching sustainability goals is possible with the use of teff from Blonk Quality Ingredients which besides making the planet happy, it also has plant based application versatility.

Challenges and opportunities

Navigating product development challenges: The taste factor

Taste remains the foremost consideration for European consumers when choosing plant-based foods, with 53% ranking it as their top priority.2 Sensory studies7 reveal a desire for plant-based milk and yoghurt alternatives to offer a more refined taste profile, suggesting less sweetness and a reduction in grainy or beany flavours. For plant-based yoghurt, a preference for a fresher, more sour taste indicates a gap between current offerings and consumer expectations. Including masking systems in your formulations like the one from Nexxus Foods is the right approach to address taste challenges caused by bitter notes from plant based ingredients.

Milk alternatives
vegetable proteins

Trust and taste: Transparency as growth opportunity

Transparency is a cornerstone of consumer trust, with 63% of Europeans seeking clearer product certifications.2 The demand for non-GMO plant-based proteins is particularly strong, reflecting a broader preference for natural, organic food products. Brands that prioritise transparency, from sourcing to product labelling, stand to gain significantly in a market where integrity and trustworthiness are increasingly valued. So choosing hydrolyzed plant proteins like the ones from Timmer’s Food Creation, that are natural, non-GMO and are suitable for various diets, create a trust bond with the consumers while enriching the product’s taste profile.


The increasing demand for plant-based ingredients presents a unique opportunity for innovation, but it also poses a challenge: how to balance the scales between clean, transparent labels and the rich, satisfying flavours that consumers demand. It’s a dance between health, ethics, and pleasure.

This interplay of values and tastes shapes the path forward for food innovators. If you’re looking to harness this trend and create products that stand out, 1-2-Taste is here to guide you through this dance. We understand the rhythm of the market and can help you craft offerings that resonate with consumers’ evolving preferences. Together, we can develop plant-based foods that don’t just meet expectations but exceed them, blending responsibility with indulgence.


More on plant-based food and ingredients:

→ Infographic: Unlock exclusive insights with our plant protein guide.


1. Mordor Intelligence. Europe Plant Protein Ingredients Market SIZE & SHARE ANALYSIS – GROWTH TRENDS & FORECASTS UP TO 2029.
2. Smart Protein. Evolving appetites: an in-depth look at European attitudes towards plant-based eating. November 2023.
3. vegconomist. Is Food Disruption Over? How Alt Meats Could Rise From the Trough of Disillusionment. July 2023.
4. Statista. Forecast number of consumers following a meatless diet in selected parts of the European Union (EU-27) from 2023 to 2033, by type. September 2023.
5. Gerber PJ, Steinfeld H, Henderson B, et al. Tackling Climate Change through Livestock – A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2013.
6. Semba RD, Ramsing R, Rahmana N, Kraemer K, Bloem M. Legumes as a sustainable source of protein in human diets. Global Food Security. 2021;28:100520.
7. Waehrens SS, Faber I, Gunn L, Buldo P, Bom Frøst M, Perez-Cueto FJA. Consumers’ sensory-based cognitions of currently available and ideal plant-based food alternatives: A survey in Western, Central and Northern Europe. Food Quality and Preference. 2023;108:104875.