By Akhila Vasan
A walk through the grocery store aisle looks differently today compared to even just a couple of years ago. There are a wider variety of products, including several plant-based ones next to their traditional counterparts. For example, one can easily find meat analogues next to traditional sausages or ground beef; cashew yogurt next to cow milk yogurt and others. According to data from the Plant-based Foods Association, a trade association representing over 190 companies, US retail sales of plant-based foods grew by 27% in 2020, bringing the total market value to $7 billion. In fact, in just the past two years, plant-based food sales have grown 43%, nine times faster than total food sales.
So, what exactly constitutes a plant-based product? Plant-based products are most often extruded plant proteins, formulated with various ingredients to simulate the texture and mouthfeel of meat. Soy protein, pea protein and wheat gluten are the most commonly used plant protein alternatives, with several other components such as rice, potato starch, mung bean, and flavorings used to serve functional needs.