At Natural Products Expo West 2023, more than 3,800 exhibitors were in attendance at the Anaheim Convention Center to showcase their products and meet with potential retail buyers. A large number of them were plant-based brands and suppliers, offering show attendees meat- and dairy-free food and beverage samples.
Store Brands sat down with Shannon Weis, lead consultant and insights account manager at Kroger's 84.51° and spokesperson for the Plant-Based Food Association, at the show. She discussed the ever-evolving needs of the plant-based consumer, and how retailers and brands can better offer products to meet those challenges.
Store Brands: Describe the current state of plant-based food. Are you still seeing strong demand in the category overall?
Shannon Weis: We are currently conducting research on the state of plant-based foods, and we're looking at how it's changed from 2021 to 2022. That research will be released very soon.
Yes. We know from a research study we conducted with the Plant-Based Food Association on unmet needs and demands of plant-based consumers. From that, we're finding that different consumers have different challenges that need to be solved for for plant-based food. The three primary areas are taste, texture, quality. Convenience is also a big one, and so is cheese. Consumers are really needing more options that are convenient to eat on-the-go and convenient to prepare.
SB: Is there a demographic that is primarily interested in plant-based foods, or is the consumer base evolving over time?
SW: We do see that all age groups purchase plant-based foods. From the research that I mentioned, we're seeing that consumers are looking for different things based on the age groups that they belong to. For example, the younger demographics are looking for plant-based options that do not mimic animal-based products. Whereas, the more mature consumers out there are actually looking for plant-based options that do mimic animal-based products.
All demographics are shopping for plant-based foods, but we're finding that there isn't just one consumer of plant-based foods, and when you look across the generations, that's where you see the different consumers and needs that need to be addressed in the industry.