5 Meat Industry Trends
It’s time to reinvent old favourites and discover something new. As we enter the new year with our world emerging from the pandemic, consumers are eager to experiment and celebrate with their taste buds. There is a desire for new flavours and new products, particularly ones that are health-conscious and inspired by foreign cuisine.
There is a real craving for high-quality food as consumers focus on their health. The comfort foods that got us through the pandemic are being updated with healthier ingredients, even if they retain some of the original flavour profiles. Health and wellness will inform many buying decisions going forward.
The interest in global flavours has been growing over the last few years, and this trend will continue. As consumers embark on their adventurous exploration of flavours, the meat (and alternative meat) industry will have to inspire them with new options and fresh ideas.
Trends in the meat industry span from clean label products to the reduction in environmental footprints to exotic flavours and global cuisine to high-protein snacks and aesthetic charcuteries.
1. Clean Label products
Consumers have shown an increased desire to purchase products with clean labels or ingredients that they recognize. This has required meat processors to review the ingredients used in producing their products and come up with new and innovative ways of maintaining the functional and flavour characteristics of their products, while satisfying their consumer’s wants. This has especially impacted further processed and cured meat products and has resulted in many new equipment, processing and ingredient technologies being explored. This desire for clean label is expected to continue to increase in popularity with consumers and require processors to pursue emerging technologies and demand further innovation from their ingredient suppliers.
All of this innovation comes with a price, however retailers and consumers continue to demand cost reductions and they are quick to penalize products that don’t meet value expectations.
Another area of consumers are buying meat-based items and making the purchasing decision based on environmental concerns, health consciousness, low costs, or pure curiosity. This clean label segment of the meat market is sure to continue expanding. Further meat processing and ingredient developments will increase the available options and varieties to meet this need.
2. Chickpeas and pulses
Chickpeas and their fellow pulses (beans, peas, and lentils) are high in protein and fibre, and extremely versatile, thus making them powerhouses in the plant-based world. Spreads, snacks, pastas, and pizzas are no stranger to the powerful chickpea. Products made from or including chickpeas are given a boost of protein along with the other vitamins and minerals found in the legume.
Using chickpea flour as a functional and nutritious binder for whole muscle meats, appetizers, emulsified meats and even coarse ground patties and sausages is a healthy and tasty way to add protein and vitamins to a product.
Burger patties, sausages, and meatballs can all benefit from an addition of a good functional chickpea flour. This goes for both meat and plant-based versions! Ample opportunities exist for the development of food blends featuring, not only chickpeas, but lentils, oats, hemp, aquafava, bran and other exciting new functional flours and concentrates.
3. High-protein snacks
To satisfy that snacking urge, high-protein snacks are a fantastic way to feel full and satiated in between meals. Foods that are high in protein also keep you feeling full for longer. Snacks that are less processed, contain fewer sugars, and lower in calories are great options for health-conscious consumers. Exciting new formats in meat based snacks are being pursued. There are Trail Mixes blended with dried meat jerky pieces. Meat and grain blends are being turned into bars and combined with fruits and cheeses in little snack kits, perfect for healthy eating on the go.
The desire for healthier options has seen traditional meat snacks adjust to more natural recipes and cleaner formulations. Seafood, turkey, and game meats are being turned into high-protein snacks, offering variety to curious consumers and an alternative for those wanting a leaner meat option.
Bars, power packs, and plant-based meat snacks (such as jerkies made from soy, fruits, and vegetables) are just a few protein-powered snacks available.
Charcuteries began their sharp rise in popularity during the pandemic, and that trend has endured. Gen-Z and millennials have spearheaded the new movement, resulting in creative, decorative, and aesthetically arranged charcuterie setups flooding the internet and social media. The reimagining of the charcuterie by younger generations means that, now, there really is a charcuterie for everyone.
No longer solely the realm of cheese and deli slices, these platters have expanded to different global cuisines (such as Mexican), plant-based meats, and fried foods.
Since consumers are creating their own charcuteries at home, they are able to put their health front and centre. They can choose products and ingredients that don’t just look and taste good, but are also good for them.
5. Global flavours
Even as the pandemic stalled international travel, it heightened consumers’ desire for cuisine exploration. The planes may have stopped flying, but there are no restrictions on travelling through one’s taste buds. This accelerated interest in foreign flavours is expected to continue.
The return of international travel and the decreasing of restaurant regulations will fuel consumers’ cuisine curiosity and the desire for new eating experiences. This presents an opportunity for brands to explore new food developments that will intrigue the palette of food voyagers.
Exotic spice blends and foreign dishes can reinvent typical meat dishes. Adding novel ingredients and overseas flavours to comfort foods satisfies the consumers’ needs for adventure and familiarity.
Reenforced by the recent Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the interest in Asian food continued its rebound after a slump brought on by COVID-19. Japanese cuisine has wide appeal because it is seen as healthy and well-suited to pescatarians and flexitarians looking to swap out red meat for seafood. It also has unique flavour profiles and features fermented and pickled foods.
Looking Forward With the Meat Industry
As we enter a post-pandemic landscape, the meat industry will have to provide products that are new, exciting, and healthy to satisfy consumers.
There is an eagerness for culinary exploration—an adventure for the tastebuds. Exotic flavours, interesting spice blends, global influence, and beautifully presented foods will reign supreme.
Health and wellness will continue to be a focus for consumers. Traditional snacks and recipes are being revamped with healthier, fresher ingredients to attract health-motivated individuals. As the plant-based meat alternative market expands, opportunities for new food developments are plentiful.
Attracting consumers going forward will require ongoing food research and development, quality, and fresh inspiring concepts from the meat industry.
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