Kerry Taste & Nutrition introduced a portfolio of plant-based ingredients under the Radicle brand for use with plant-based proteins and dairy alternatives. The company said in a release the ingredients help provide "nutritionally better plant-based foods with authentic tastes and cleaner labels."
As more consumers become flexitarians — eating both conventional animal-based proteins and plant-based ones — manufacturers may need help to deliver what these people are looking for, Kerry said in the release.
The solution is to provide flavorful products that provide optimal nutrition and recognizable ingredients, are gluten-free, and reduce fat, sugar or salt, the company said. The Radicle line will first debut in North America and Europe and roll out globally in the coming months, Kerry added.
With this new line of plant-based ingredients named after the part of a plant embryo that develops into its root, Kerry is aiming for the global plant-based food market. The ingredients company said that segment is projected to hit $24.5 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 9.1% between now and then. It includes plant-based burgers and meat-free sausages, along with an ever-increasing array of food and beverage products that don't contain animal-sourced ingredients.
Scott Wright, Kerry North America's vice president and general manager of meat systems, said in the release the new Radicle product line "represents a significant launch for our North America business" and increases the depth of offerings the company can provide for taste, texture, nutrition and functionality.
Plant-based food and beverage makers are likely to seek out those exact qualities as they compete with others entering the sector. These ingredients could help elevate plant-based items to their tastiest and most consumer-friendly form — and most lucrative. Most plant-based consumers also eat food that comes from animals, but they could be dissuaded if they don't think they represent a tasty enough replacement for the real thing.
The new ingredients are in two big buckets: for plant-based dairy — including ice cream, yogurt and cheese — and plant-based meat. These products impart flavors and mouthfeel typically associated with meat and dairy, as well as mask off tastes, mimic textures and perform similarly to dairy and meat when cooked and eaten.
In the early days of plant-based foods, taste was less important than the fact that a product wasn't made from animals. But as the consumer's appetite for these products has increased and more items hit market shelves, companies are under pressure to beat their competitors — and one big way to do that is through a better-tasting product.
For an ingredients company, this scenario represents both challenges and opportunities. For Kerry, which is also one of the largest and most diverse key players in the global market, introducing adaptable plant-based solutions to the industry could help to make sure it maintains that position.