Veggie-packed food brands fill the gap between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegetable-rich’

11 Jan 2021

Generation Z – the generation of people born between 1997 and 2012 – may be fuelling the plant-based food trend but, paradoxically, they are not eating enough plants, creating a white space for products and ready meals that put vegetables centre-stage.

A national survey found that young people in England aged between 16 and 24 eat less fruit and vegetables than older adults while in the US, vegetable consumption relative to recommendations is lowest among boys aged nine to 13 years and girls ages 14 to 18 years, according to a government report.

Veggie-packed food brands fill the gap between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegetable-rich’

Although plant-based products are generally seen as being healthy, food manufacturers’ focus on imitating the taste, texture and appearance of meat and dairy means they could be missing an opportunity to combine successful NPD with public health goals: encouraging people to eat more whole vegetables, fruit, pulses, and other unprocessed plants.

“Brands may take for granted that Gen Zs even know what role vegetables play in a balanced diet,” writes global food analyst at Mintel, Melanie Zanoza Bartelme. “There seems to be a disconnect between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegetable-rich,’ and vegetable brands should do more to help Gen Zs see the need for vegetables in a way that will resonate with them.”

“Vegetable brands are missing an opportunity to help this generation understand the importance of ‘actual’ vegetables in their diets,” she adds. “Brands can look to new kinds of messaging and product innovation to help Gen Zs see vegetables as a tasty, exciting and convenient source of plant-based goodness.”

Exotic flavours, exciting formats, and comfort food favourites

Some brands are already targeting this consumer segment with appealing flavours and formats.

US brand Tattooed Chef’s Greens 5 offers consumers bags of mixed frozen vegetables that are pre-cut and pre-seasoned, meaning there is no need to wash, peel and chop. It also has a range of ready meals, such as Mexican street food, and healthy versions of popular comfort foods, such as cauliflower mac & cheese.

Irish frozen food company Strong Roots recently expanded its range of seasonal and sustainably grown vegetable-based products to the US with listings in over 2,000 Walmart stores. Its products include broccoli & purple carrot bites, cauliflower hash browns, and pumpkin & spinach burger patties.

Other North American brands are using whole vegetable pieces to create healthier versions of popular snacks that tend to be high in salt and fat, such as fried chicken wings. Canadian brand Wholly Veggie makes cauliflower Buffalo wings using whole florets, which it says retains the vitamins and fibre, while US company Rollin Greens serves its crispy cauliflower wings with a green Buffalo sauce made with spinach and jalapeño.

Why so veg-shy?

There are a number of reasons why Generation Zs have been spurning vegetables, according to recent Mintel research.

Firstly, preparing vegetables is seen as hard work with almost double the number of Gen Z consumers in the US saying they avoid preparing vegetables because of the “hassle” involved while three in 10 say it is hard to make vegetables taste good.

This could well be because many of today’s young people lack a repertoire of recipes to actually turn raw vegetables into tasty meals, according to Zanoza Bartelme. The fact that many schools have cut spending on subjects such as home economics, where high schoolers learn the importance of nutrition and how to follow a healthy, balanced diet, could well be to blame.

In order to reach this generation, Mintel suggests food brands work with influencers who feel passionate about healthy eating, nutrition and vegetables, and task them with helping Gen Z consumers see that vegetables are a necessary part of their diet, using social media platforms such as TikTok.

Related news

Halal harmonisation opens doors for food exporters

Halal harmonisation opens doors for food exporters

14 Dec 2020

The food industry is benefitting from steps to harmonise halal standards globally, including recent guidance for halal food additives– but more progress is required, according to a report.

Read more 
Immune-boosting product launches in Southeast Asia

Immune-boosting product launches in Southeast Asia

7 Dec 2020

Chocolate snacks with adaptogenic mushroom powder, vitamin C jelly, and prebiotic-packed crackers are just some recent product launches in Southeast Asia promising to boost consumers’ immunity as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

Read more 
Chinese consumers increasingly concerned about food safety

Chinese consumers increasingly concerned about food safety

30 Nov 2020

Food safety is of growing concern for Chinese consumers and many do not fully trust on-pack claims such as organic. Supply chain certification is one way to win back trust, according to Lloyd’s Register.

Read more 
Cocoa fruit juice: The next big beverage ingredient?

Cocoa fruit juice: The next big beverage ingredient?

9 Nov 2020

Cocoa fruit juice has a refreshingly sweet and sour flavour with tropical notes of lychee and peach, making it ideal for premium-positioned drinks, says Ghanaian-Swiss supplier Koa.

Read more 
Confidence in Europe’s CBD market high despite regulatory barriers

Confidence in Europe’s CBD market high despite regulatory barriers

2 Nov 2020

Despite regulatory uncertainty, small start-ups and big businesses alike are confident about Europe’s CBD market. “Local brands [have] a great opportunity to shine,” says one company.

Read more 
French dairy giant Bel to launch plant-based cheese

French dairy giant Bel to launch plant-based cheese

22 Oct 2020

French dairy group Bel will launch a plant-based Boursin in the US next year as it develops vegan versions of its core brands, which include Babybel and The Laughing Cow.

Read more 
Can indoor vertical farming solve the Gulf’s food security challenge?

Can indoor vertical farming solve the Gulf’s food security challenge?

18 Oct 2020

Recent investments in vertical farms could make Gulf countries less reliant on food imports, say the companies involved.

Read more 
Brazilian draft law limits food colourings to ‘smallest quantities’ possible

Brazilian draft law limits food colourings to ‘smallest quantities’ possible

10 Oct 2020

A Brazilian lawmaker is pushing for manufacturers to use the smallest quantities possible of food colourings for health reasons.

Read more 
Two Mexican states ban junk food sales to children: A taste of things to come?

Two Mexican states ban junk food sales to children: A taste of things to come?

28 Sep 2020

Two Mexican states have moved to ban the sale of junk food to children and a national ban may be on the cards, according to one expert. Could this be a taste of future food policy around the world?

Read more 
China’s self-heating trend heats up ready meal category

China’s self-heating trend heats up ready meal category

21 Sep 2020

Self-heating ready meals are experiencing a boom in China, catering to the country’s ‘lazy economy’, and Mintel estimates its market value will double in coming years.

Read more