Looks, tastes and smells like meat – but isn’t meat!


As innovation in plant-based alternatives accelerates, we are seeing more and more products on the shelves that closely replicate popular meat products like burgers and sausages. Not only in taste, but in look, texture, smell and even sound (think sizzling bacon…).

Consumers like familiarity

Why are plant-based producers actively trying to make their products look like the very thing they aim to replace? Research shows that consumers are attracted to plant-based food that has recognisable qualities. According to Mintel, 53% of US consumers say that how a dish looks is a big factor in whether they try to cook it.

65% UK consumers think meat substitutes should resemble meat products as closely as possible

Texture is equally important. Our own research shows us that globally, consumers looking for meat alternatives prefer those that are tender, juicy and meat-like in your mouth, with more than 70% of people saying each of these factors would make them more likely to buy the product (Tate & Lyle proprietary research, 2020). 66% also said that they were more likely to buy a meat alternative that was moist.

74% global consumers more likely to purchase meat alternatives that are tender

Room to improve

Despite all the progress already made in plant-based 'meat' products, 27% of US consumers still say they don’t eat meat substitutes because they don’t like the taste, while 47% would like to see greater variety in the forms of alternatives available. In the UK, 44% think it is unclear what ingredients are used in meat-free foods and only 14% think plant-based diets are highly nutritious (Lightspeed/Mintel, 2020).

This means that producers of plant-based alternatives who can give consumers a better eating experience will have a strong competitive edge in this fast-growing market. That means not only getting taste right, but also all the nutrition and sensory qualities that play such a big role in consumers’ purchasing decision.

Here to help

At Tate & Lyle, we have the expertise to help our customers win in this market. Our long experience in delivering top-quality sensory experiences, combined with our portfolio of speciality ingredients and wealth of nutrition science expertise, makes us the ideal partner to work with on plant-based products, be they meat, dairy or other alternatives.