Chickpea, Soya, Hibiscus…Why are these ingredients so popular within the Food & Beverage market?

The food and beverage industry is one of the fastest growing industries globally, with a 5% annual growth (Industry Today, 2020). There is a huge demand for food and beverage products which offers companies both opportunities and challenges.

Companies need to follow the latest trends and ensure they are providing consumers with what they want or face more challenges than opportunities. In 2015, it was reported that top F&B companies in the US lost an estimated amount of $18 billion, due to the shift in millennials buying behaviour – moving away from processed foods and towards healthier alternatives (Fortune, 2015).

With the shift in buying behaviour, global companies have seen huge growth in the plant-based ingredients category.

In Europe alone it is predicted that this category will reach €7.5 billion by 2025 (Fi Global, 2021). That’s €3.1 billion more than in 2019. Chickpea, soya and hibiscus are amongst many plant-based ingredients that have become a very popular ingredient in many everyday food dishes. Restaurants and brands don’t just want to provide consumers with salads and steamed vegetables but rather full course meals that provide just as much variety and protein as a ‘normal’ meat meal would.

Are Plant Based Products Healthier?

One trend that keeps popping up is the move towards a plant-based diet. Consumer’s interest has grown into plant-based foods due to their environmental and health impacts. When comparing plant-based foods to meat products there is a huge difference in the impact that each food category has on the environment and individual’s health – meat being far more detrimental to both the environment and consumers wellbeing. Cooking the right amount of plant-based products can ensure that your body is receiving an adequate amount of protein. The best way to do this is to add extra beans, lentils, and grains into your weekly menu.

Are Plant Based Products Cheaper?

Not only are plant-based products healthy but they can be inexpensive. This is not to say that all plant-based products are cheap, especially the plant-based alternatives which are more expensive than their animal-based counterparts. However, consumers do have the option to go for the cheaper products. Legumes, vegetables, rice, noodles, pasta, fruits and grains are some of the most inexpensive ingredients/ products at most supermarkets.

Plant Based Products Provide A New Experience

Plant-based products have offered consumers a new way of shopping and eating. After a year of buying boring stables in bulk, consumers are looking for new and exciting products while being as healthy as possible. Consumers are not afraid to dive into the plant-based category and experience all the different products being offered. They also have the opportunity to explore new recipes and even create their own.

Plant Based Products Provide Variety

This trend has caused companies to push out the ‘same old, same old’ mentality and adopt one that is more open and exciting. The surge in plant-based ingredients and products has caused companies to widen their products offered in-store. Not only is there a variety of plant-based products and ingredients on shelf but there is also a variety of meals. Consumers have been quick to explore and adapt their everyday meals, adopting more more plant-based produce into their diets and healthier lifestyles.

Popular Plant-Based Ingredients


Chickpeas have become a popular, inexpensive, healthier alternative to tofu, flour, cereal and pasta. They are rich in protein and fibre. Consumers have started to call chickpeas the new ‘cauliflower’. Here are two examples of popular chickpea products:

Amisa: Naturally gluten free, the Organic Chickpea Flour can be used for Hummus, Falafel mixes or to make Panelle flat breads.

Chickapea Pasta: Rich in protein, this organic chickpea pasta has a delicious taste and a great texture.


Soy has always been a very popular product alternative amongst Vegetarians and Vegans. Soy is a good source of protein, calcium and iron and is often used as a replacement for diary products. However, soy has also been used to create meat alternative which involves imitating meat products like sausages using the soy protein or tofu. Here are 2 popular soy products:

Silk: Made from whole-harvested soybeans, which is rich and creamy. Contains 8g of protein and is a great source of calcium, with the exclusion of diary, gluten, cholesterol, artificial colours and flavours.

Wholesome Provisions: Just Like Beef is low carb, gluten free, vegan, high in protein and high in fibre meat alternative. It is made from soybeans and is quick and easy to prepare just like normal beef.


Hibiscus is new to the popularity list of healthy plant-based ingredients.. It was most commonly used in sweets and sugary jams but is now moving into the healthy food category. It’s a source of vitamin C and has become a meat replacement due to its fatty, chewy nature. Once cooked it takes on a very similar look to stewed meat, with a more fresh, flowery taste. Hibiscus is usually sold separately and added into recipes, rather than coming as ready-made products like chickpeas & soy. Here are 2 examples of Hibiscus meals:

Tacos de Jamaica: Delicious Mexican vegan tacos. Made with hibiscus flowers and garnished with pineapple, onion, cilantro, and salsa verde with avocado.

Cranberry- Hibiscus Granola: Granola made with dried cranberries and hibiscus petals. High in fibre and natural sugars.

Why not join one of our KICR Innovation Clinic session to discuss your plant-based category challenges & ambitions?