Vegetarians represent only about 3.5 percent of the U.S. population (10.6 million). However, as consumers continue to seek out healthier food products in general, a new audience is evolving — the "meat reducer," who represents an estimated 18.5 percent of the U.S. population (61.9 million people). Meat reducers are consumers actively seeking to reduce or not increase meat consumption, or who consume less meat than they did a year ago. Research suggests that by 2012, meat reducers will climb to about 23.1 percent of the U.S. population (72.7 million people). According to Datamonitor, the U.S. meat substitute category has an estimated retail value of about $1 billion. There are a number of suggested factors fueling this market growth, including:
- Increased awareness of health and nutrition in general, given the obesity epidemic, aging population and heart disease
- Food contamination scares
- Concern with the treatment of animals
- Sustainability concerns
- Increasing meat prices
As a result of this shift, today's meat-free products are increasingly designed to appeal to more than just the core vegetarian audience. Solae works with food companies to develop new products, increasingly veggie versions of familiar foods favored by large audiences.
Solae's soy protein isolates
and structured proteins
are used in the meat-replacement category, and Solae's research and development team partners with companies to develop products to fit consumer taste demands and functionality needs. Solae's in-house sensory testing
allows for immediate feedback on consumer preference and choice. In addition, Solae's food technology expertise
ensures product functional performance, including improved water and fat stabilization, solubility, viscosity, gelation, emulsification, clean flavor and a more meat-like texture.