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Author: Plant Based World Pulse

Plant Based World Expo Europe Doubles in Size as Industry Booms

Europe’s only dedicated plant-based trade event, Plant Based World Expo Europe, returned bigger and better last week at London Olympia with twice as much floorspace as the previous year, demonstrating the huge growth and innovation that has taken place in the plant-based food sector in 2022.   

The show also welcomed a 94% increase in attendees compared to 2021, with visitors from across the food service, retail, distribution, and investment sectors, including senior decision-makers from the likes of Tesco, M&S, ALDI, Morrisons, Waitrose, Ocado, Sodexo, ISS, Bidfood, Sysco, Aramark, LEON, Papa Johns Pizza, Burger King, The Restaurant Group and Greggs to name a few.  

Future eating habits and new opportunities were at the heart of the show as the industry came together to reflect on the progress of the plant-based sector and explore what the next generation of plant-based eating looks like, with the latest innovations available on the show floor to taste.  

Image: Elena Devis, Head of Vegan Category, Deliveroo

Leaders from some of the biggest food brands in the world, including Deliveroo, Wagamama, Sainsbury’s, and Quorn, offered their insight on how plant-based ingredients are transforming consumers’ view of food and presenting significant business growth opportunities during the conference programme. 

With a unique take on how businesses can convert the masses, Emily Weston, Head of Brand Development at Wagamama, joined the ‘Persuading consumers to try plant-based’ session: “Launching vegan dishes and menus isn’t just about appeasing vegans. We want more people to try vegan foods and when we introduce new plant-based dishes to our menus we see participation spike.”  

The Culinary Theatre was also a hive of activity with live cooking demonstrations using some of the most innovative plant-based products available. Ten sessions took place across two days, including an interactive demonstration from BOSH! which offered visitors an exclusive preview of its new sauces to make an authentic and delicious lasagne. Unfished also took part to demonstrate the progress in the fish-less category by creating tuna rolls, whilst Redefine Meat showcased how plant-based foods can be incorporated in fine dining using its tenderloin and new premium cuts.   

Alongside the interactive show content, over 150 exhibitors from around the world showcased the products capturing the attention of a wider pool of consumers to bring plant-based eating into the mainstream. The show floor included a broad range of brands, from household names to innovative new start-ups including Verdino, Moving Mountains, Mock, Meatless Farm, Redefine Meat, Thanks Plants, The Raging Pig Company, unMeat, Wicked Kitchen, Quorn, Tiba Tempeh, MozzaRisella, and Shicken.   

Hosted Buyers Programme

To give buyers exclusive access to exhibitors and help participating brands forge new connections with decision makers also hosted a buyers programme. Over 400 meetings took place across two days, helping the industry to form new business relationships and bring more plant-based foods to shelves and menus.  

One buyer who enjoyed the show was Heerum Flearly, Procurement Consultant at Tickeat Ltd, who said: “The hosted buyer programme has been really beneficial. The show has been so busy, and I’ve been surprised by the breadth on offer. Plant Based World Expo has created a very strong plant-based community and I definitely want to be part of it next year.” 

Having experienced exponential growth in its first two years, Plant Based World Expo Europe has announced that the show will take place at the ExCeL, London’s biggest venue, for 2023. The event began in London’s Business Design Centre in 2021, before moving to London Olympia for this year’s edition.  

Jonathan Morley, Managing Director of Plant Based World Expo Europe, concludes: “We are thrilled that support for our show has been so strong this year, so much so that Plant Based World Expo is moving to an even bigger venue in 2023. We are proud to provide the perfect platform to facilitate collaboration across the industry to realise the business opportunities that further integrating plant-based foods into the mainstream represents, all whilst improving both our health and the environment. We can’t wait for next year!”  

About Plant Based World Expo Europe 

Plant Based World Expo is the only 100% plant-based event for trade professionals – retailers, foodservice, hospitality, distributors, manufacturers, and investors. This unique show combines a world-class conference with an international exhibition of the most innovative products on the market, as well as high-level networking and product tasting opportunities.  

The mission of Plant Based World Expo is simple: connecting and empowering businesses to successfully develop, source and distribute plant-based products.  Plant Based World Expo Europe is arriving at ExCeL London on 15th and 16th November 2023, be the first to hear when registration opens by joining the mailing list: https://mailchi.mp/jdevents/subscribe-to-plant-based-world or visit https://www.plantbasedworldeurope.com/ 

Curry Fresh Launches Freshly Packaged Vegan Indian Food in the U.S

The first freshly packaged vegan and gluten-free Indian food range has launched in the US. The manufacturers use high pressure processing (HPP) to keep the meals nutritious and tasty for longer. The process uses pressure to eliminate harmful bacteria and the need for preservatives. It comes in sealed BPA-free containers and unlike most deli/fresh items, the food stays fresh for up to six months.   

The company, Curry Fresh, began its food journey with an Indian restaurant in Michigan in 2009. When they moved into the packaged food business in 2020, they decided to make vegan and gluten-free options to expand their customer base and reach people who might not have tried Indian food before. Their goal was to make Indian food accessible and affordable for all.   

Indian cuisine has a strong tradition of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Around 39% of people in India identify as vegetarian, the highest percentage in the world. Average daily meat consumption in India is 13 grams compared with 330 grams in the US. 

However, Americans tend to associate Indian food with a limited range of familiar meat dishes such as chicken tikka masala and tandoori chicken, white naan bread, with spinach paneer as the most well-known vegetarian dish. Curry Fresh set out to change that perception.  

The founders are firm believers that by eating more Indian food, Americans can reduce their meat consumption and in turn reduce obesity and associated health problems. With Curry Fresh Indian food becomes more affordable, as they no longer have to go to a restaurant to eat it.  

A unique innovation of Curry Fresh is their development of Turmeric Assisted Pressure Sterilization (TAPS) which enables flavor and nutrients to last a year if refrigerated below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.   

For Q4 2022 Curry Fresh is launching a chickpea masala in two flavours: tomato and coconut. The dish is high in protein and fibre and has a low glycaemic index. In 2023 the company will launch vegan Thai red and green curries.  

The company hopes to expand into other world food ranges including Jamaican and Chinese sauces, hummus, salsa, vegan meats, burgers, and vegetables. The TAPS process can be used add extra shelf-life to almost any food, reducing food waste and reducing the energy and transport costs associated with frozen food. 

Catering in the Skies: Current State of the Airline Travel Sector

It may surprise you to know that plant-based meals have been available on flights for several decades. In those pre-internet days, ordering a vegan meal was arranged through a posted letter addressed to the airline detailing the passenger’s special dietary needs. Sixty years on and despite widespread acceptance of plant-based diets, long-haul passengers still face hurdles.  

Hungry for Change 

Securing a plant-based meal requires extra effort. Requests must be made far in advance and are not guaranteed. There are numerous reports of plant-based meals being served with butter, smothered with dairy cheese, and most commonly – pre-ordered meals failing to make it to the flight.  

One such famous case, saw an Air Canada passenger on an eight-hour flight being served a bottle of water to make up for the missing plant-based meal. Outraged and hungry Miriam Forter later resorted to a granola bar and plant-based snacks being brought in from business class, and a PR nightmare for Air Canada. 

Considering the soaring demand for plant-based foods and their popularity within society at large, there is mounting pressure for plant-based meals be offered on all flights as standard.  

Sky-High Pressure 

With the world waking up to the climate crisis, pressure is being applied on the travel sector to minimize their carbon footprint. In a bid to achieve net-zero targets, some airlines have introduced more efficient aircrafts into service as well as drastically cutting back their plastic waste. The introduction of canned water and wine brands was one such example.  

Virgin Atlantic have even gone the extra mile. They mandated that cabin crew uniforms feature a minimum of 25% recycled materials, have opted for sustainably sourced amenity kits, and reduced the airlines carbon footprint by not serving beef on board. 

With such efforts being made, it begs the bigger question: why not reduce climate impact by offering more plant-based meals? With so many airlines paying lip service to sustainability, this is a clear oversight. The industrys carbon emissions could be significantly reduced by offering a plant-based meal as standard for the estimated one billion inflight meals they serve each year. 

There is a great deal of discussion around vegan and plant-based trends and food choices in travelexplained Hari Kamaluddin, VirginAtlantic’s manager of inflight services, but in terms of the numbers of meals requested its a very small percentage of our overall offering. The highest demand comes from the UK and the US but other regions it is significantly less.”  

The latest airlines.org data shows that on average, airlines spend 32.9% on labor, 16.9% on fuel, and only 1.6% on food. Food is not a significant investment for airlines. But this thinking is wrong, believes Charlie Huson, Forward Food Program Manager at Humane Society International UK. If everyone flying out of Heathrow in just one day chose a vegan mealsaid Huson, it could save around 33,592 tons of CO2, the equivalent of driving 112,695,851 miles in an average UK petrol car.” 

Short-Haul Gains 

The provision gap between long haul and short flights seems to be narrowing – United Airlines is now giving its customers more plant-based menu options. Onboard and in selected lounges in the US, they have incorporated Impossible Foods among other meat alternatives. The airline cites a Nielsen report showing that more than half of US consumers are increasing their plant-based food consumption, and that sales of plant-based meat continue to climb. 

In addition to this, budget European airline Ryanair customers have been excited by their latest menu additions of vegan lasagne and plant-based sausage rolls. It appears that short-haul flights, which upsell food and beverages to their inflight customers, are leading the way with innovation. They reap the financial reward of offering plant-based options – simply put, it is the difference between that customer making a purchase onboard or not.  

Conclusion 

Having taken steps to address the issue of sustainability, airlines are still slow to fully incorporate plant-based food onboard.Far from being served as standard, plant-based meals remain a tick box exercise for the special dietary requirements, and an environmental afterthought.  

Long-haul airlines without the direct financial imperative to offer plant-based food need to recognize that their innovation in this area could be the difference between customers choosing them over their competitors. Furthermore, it gives them the opportunity to demonstrate real commitment to climate goals beyond plastic bottles.  

How To Stay Ahead of Plant Based Food Trends & Opportunities

The demand for plant-based foods has never been stronger, and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, the total plant-based market value in the U.S. is now around $7 billion, according to data from the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), The Good Food Institute, and SPINS. Consumers are hungry for healthier, more humane and more environmentally friendly options, and new and exciting products are hitting shelves every day to help meet that demand.  

Part of what is driving this growth is the rise of the flexitarian diet, especially among millennials.   

According to PBFA, official show partner of Plant Based World Expo North America, one third of Americans are actively reducing their meat and dairy consumption and flexitarians represent the largest growth opportunity for plant-based foods. In fact, plant-based products are a key driver of sales growth at grocery retailers nationwide, growing almost twice as fast as overall food sales!  

So how can you capitalize on this booming market, improve your bottom line, and satisfy consumer demand as well? A good place to start is at the Plant Based World Expo where attendees will be able to see, taste, and experience the latest trends in plant-based food and learn new ways to merchandise this growing retail category.  

Merchandising Matters 

“When it comes to merchandising recommendations, honing in on understanding consumer behavior and tailoring the retail environment to meet expectations is key,” says Julie Emmett, PBFA’s Senior Director of Marketplace Development. “We have collaborated with Kroger to research how plant-based foods perform when merchandised alongside their animal-based counterparts and in the case of refrigerated plant-based meats, sales increased 23% when this strategy was applied.” Plant-based dairy is another category that is benefitting from being merchandised next to animal-based dairy counterparts. 

“Plant-based milk is the perfect illustration of the power of merchandising plant-based foods next to their animal-based counterparts. After years of following this strategy, retailers are leaning in–with most retailers dedicating up to 30% of shelf space, and up to 50% in the natural channel, to these options,” say Emmett. 

Retailers are also using shelf tags, icons, signage, and dedicated plant-based sections both online and in stores to differentiate the category, educate consumers, and make it easier to find plant-based products.   

Plant Based Trends & Innovations 

The Plant Based World Expo is also the place to learn about the latest plant-based trends such as next-level plant-based seafood and meats, dairy-free frozen treats, and global plant-based cuisine. Emerging and pioneering brands such as Eclipse Foods, Hodo, Mind Blown Plant Based Seafood Co., Miyokos Creamery, New Wave Foods, Plantasia Foods, Ripple Foods, and hundreds of others will be showcasing their latest and greatest offerings. 

Regarding growth categories, Emmett says that in the last two years, PBFA has seen an increase in products used in cooking and snacking such as sauces and dips. “While the volume is lower in comparison to the other larger categories such as dairy and meat, the exponential growth speaks to consumer demand to incorporate plant-based products into all of their eating occasions,” she says. She also points to vegan baked goods as a high-growth category. In 2021, vegan baked goods in retail alone grew 3% and 417% over the past three years, reaching a market value of $199 million.  

Customers in 2022 want more plant-based options to choose from in their grocery stores. At the same time, there is also major demand for less processed foods — a category that many plant-based offerings, to some degree, fall into. “Now that plant-based foods have reached a mainstream audience, with a growing variety of plant-based options available everywhere from grocery store shelves to fast-food restaurants and fine dining establishments, the focus is innovating even more toward health, i.e. clean labels and new and exciting new plant ingredients,” says Emmett.

“Given that shoppers continue to look to plant-based foods to support their health, the industry is rising to this expectation across all categories. Retailers are consistently seeking quality ingredients from both brands and for their private label.”