According to the French Ministry of Agriculture, meat consumption is steadily decreasing in France. Nutritional recommendations since the early 1980s, the high cost of meat, recent food scandals relating to meat products, shifts in attitudes to animal welfare and environmental factors are all contributing to changes in consumer expectations and the search for alternative protein sources.
CHANGES IN EXPECTATIONS AND DIETARY BEHAVIOURS
The consumption of red meat has decreased since the financial crisis in 2008, dropping from 71 kilos per year and per inhabitant in 2006, to 66 kilos per year and per inhabitant in 2012. This new consumer trendreflects a deeper shift: a significant change in the food model and the driving factors that determine consumer choices.
Taking priority over price, environmental issues, farming and processing conditions such as slaughter, are now influencing consumers choices and purchasing criteria. Attentive to food quality, consumers are now seeking out new, alternative suppliers such as local producers and shops, and are turning away from traditional channels that are sometimes associated with lower-quality products. Ethical issues are now of greater concern, with animal status and welfare increasingly at the forefront of consumers' minds. With the huge variety of food products now available, consumers are choosing to prefer cow's milk or chicken eggs, or to adopt a “vegan diet”, rather than kill animals for their meat.
However, eating less meat doesn't necessarily mean reducing your protein intake! Other sources of protein are available, such as plant-based proteins(legumes, soya, grains, seaweed, mushrooms, etc.), non-meat animal-derived proteins (dairy products, cheese, egg and milk proteins) and 'alternative' protein sources (insects, yeast).
"MEAT-FREE" FOOD TRENDS ON THE RISE
43% of French people have already reduced their meat consumption, with 65% intending to reduce it further. This means the trend is gaining strength and will continue to grow over the coming years (SOURCES: LINEAIRES 2017, KANTAR WORLPANEL and IPSOS surveys in 2017). Let's take a closer look at these food trends that are becoming increasingly popular in our society.
A vegetarian diet excludes meat, fish, eggs and seafood. There are, however, several variations within vegetarianism:
- Ovo-lacto vegetarianism: this diet includes animal products (such as milk and eggs).
- Lacto-vegetarianism: dairy products are included, except for eggs.
- Semi-vegetarianism: meat is excluded, but fish, seafood and sometimes poultry are eaten.
This diet includes only plant-based foods, and excludes all forms of meat, fish, seafood, dairy products, and eggs, and in its more radical form, also excludes animal-derived products such as honey and cream.
This diet heavily restricts meat consumption and prioritises quality over quantity. This approach to food first emerged in the United States, and gradually arrived in Europe via the Northern European countries. An increasing number of French people are opting for this type of diet.
According to the Kantar World Panel study, 34% of French households declared themselves as flexitarians in 2016, compared to just 25% in 2015. In comparison, just 1.7% of households declared themselves as vegetarian, and 0.5% as vegan.
LESS MEAT, BUT MORE ALTERNATIVE PROTEINS
A surge in demand for plant-based proteins
Going beyond a reduction in animal protein consumption, consumers are shifting over to alternative sources of protein, and primarily plant-based proteins derived from legumes, grains and especially soya.
These proteins are often consumed in the form of plant-based milks, tofu, and chilled products such as yoghurt or creamy desserts, as well as meat-free steaks and “snacks” (fruit and soya bars, etc.). However, soya remains a controversial food product because of its high phyto-oestrogen content and its potential effects on the body. Other plant-based milks available include: almond, hazelnut, rice, oat and coconut milks. These drinks are often lacking in calcium , and need to be fortified to provide all the nutritional benefits of cow's milk. In addition to this, little is known on the bioavailability of added micro-nutrients (Vitamin D, calcium, etc.) in plant-based drinks, unlike the calcium content in cow's milk.
Plant-based proteins are also known to be less nutritious in comparison to animal-derived proteins. Their biological protein value is lower than that of animal-derived proteins, because their amino acid profile is often lacking, with deficiencies in methionine, cysteine (pulses, legumes) and lysine (grains).
Focus on the quality of alternative animal-derived proteins
Animal-derived proteins, especially those found in milk, are the best alternative proteins because of the quality of their biological profile, their bioavailability and their sourcing.
These proteins include caseins (anti-catabolic and slow-digesting), whey proteins (including fast-digesting whey) and small quantities of other forms of protein (proteose-peptone fractions, immunoglobulins, etc.).
As a result, the nutritional quality of milk proteins is excellent, with good digestibility and a chemical index close to 100.
Due to a high content in calcium and protein, dieticians and nutritionists recommend eating at least two dairy products every day. From a nutritional perspective, it is worth noting that milk proteins work well with vegetarian and flexitarian food trends and diets.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE AGRI-FOOD INDUSTRIES
R&D development for product formulation support
To appeal to this new segment of consumers in search of alternative proteins, R&D teams could incorporate milk proteins into their product formulas.
Development should focus on boosting product nutritional values by the addition of whey, a highly nutritious product packed full of proteins, vitamins, lactose and water, and very low in fat. Several processes can be used to extract various components, in the form of powder or liquid, for the purpose of highly specific applications (nutrition for the elderly, athletes, infants, etc.).
Innovating with Armor Protéines ingredients
As a leader in dairy formulations, ARMOR PROTEINES offers a range of functional ingredients such as LACTARMOR G, demined or permeated whey.
These dairy products adapt to nutritional needs and specific consumer uses, they comply with vegetarian and flexitarian food modes, and satisfy consumers with their high nutritional quality and their variety of formulation options.