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The Growing Power of Plant-Based Foods and the Need to Authenticate Them

According to a market analysis report by Bloomberg, the dynamic growth of the plant-based food category will continue through the decade. Global sales of plant-based foods are predicted to increase 500% between 2020 and 2030.

What’s fueling this velocity? Customer growth is being driven by a convergence of consumer trends and concerns, creating new and unprecedented category opportunities:

  • Health: Numerous studies have suggested that plant-based diets can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  • Environmental: The meat industry, especially beef, is known to have a significant environmental footprint, including deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and water usage. Plant-based diets are viewed as far more sustainable.
  • Ethical Reasons: Concerns about animal welfare are also pushing some consumers towards plant-based diets.

Rather than radical shifts to veganism, many consumers have started to mix plant-based products into their larger animal-based diet, to address some of these issues and ‘do less harm’.

As with other types of food products, opportunities exist for food fraud in the plant-based sector and are fueled by strong demand leading to supply shortages and inflated costs. In many countries, the regulation of these products is not as strictly enforced as it is with animal products. Therefore, some products may be mislabeled, claiming to be vegan when they actually contain animal ingredients.

Plant-based food adulteration can affect a wide range of products.  Food oils, especially olive oils, are among the most frequently adulterated foods, often mixed with cheaper oils like hazelnut, sunflower, or palm oil. Other plant-based foods that could be a target for adulteration include pulses, legumes, plant-based milks and meats, cacao products, chia seeds, maple syrup, juices, as well as herbs and spices.

As market opportunities for plant-based foods grow, food fraud will become a greater threat. Consumers will seek the best possible assurances about product integrity. Food companies are well advised to work with laboratories and testing services that can help them develop rigorous protocols and be able to provide certifications of authenticity. Third-party testing will provide them and their customers piece of mind that what is on their label matches the product inside.

Fight food fraud! Learn more about the power of NMR and the testing services available at Purity-IQ.

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