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Hybrid products everywhere and for everyone


March 26

In a recent session hosted by The Protein Community, industry experts explored hybrid products, discussing challenges and growth opportunities. The event, held on March 22, brought together professionals to examine products combining plant-based or alternative components with animal-based ones.

Key Insights

1. Collaboration in Innovation:

Kees Pieters from the Provincie of Gelderland kicked off. He highlighted the importance of collaboration in driving innovation in the hybrid products space. The Protein Community recognises Kees’  efforts to accelerate the protein transition and Leo Koning (manager of TPC) awarded him with a Golden Bean!

2. Communication is Key:

Effective communication emerged as a recurring theme throughout the discussions. Jeroen Willemsen (Foodvalley) showed various examples of hybrid products and their way of communicating. Some brands choose not to frame their products as hybrid, others emphasize the percentage of plant-based vs animal-based or highlight the lower CO2 emissions than its fully animal-based alternative.

Alice Pilkington (Mintel) recommends communicating the benefits of hybrid products clearly, not in percentages, but on factors such as improved taste, health, and environmental sustainability. Stay away from the word Hybrid is the recommendation. That will position hybrid as less extreme, but still meaningful for the world by highlighting the environmental benefits

“We are constantly confronted with the climate crisis. As a result, the demand for sustainable solutions is increasing. The environmental impact of hybrid products is much lower than that of meat products.”

Alice Pilkington – Mintel
3. Market Ready:

Many hybrid products disappeared from the shelves. Were they not communicated in the right way or was the market not ready? Probably a combination of both. Alice Pilkington is hopeful. Positioning hybrid products as a bridge between animal-based and plant-based diets, will appeal to the growing flexitarian demographic. ”Ongoing media coverage on plant-based eating is continuing to fuel interest in plant-based eating and drinking long term”, she states.

During the session, the debate emerged over whether hybrid products should be given their own category in supermarkets or undergo a silent transition. Creating a separate category poses challenges as many consumers adhere to the mindset of “don’t mess with my meat,” as Henk Shouten pointed out, potentially making hybrid products less appealing.

4. Innovation in Action:

Despite the challenges, speakers highlighted significant opportunities for hybrid products. Jan Vreugdenhil and Angelique Peterse (Vreugdenhil Dairy Foods) shared insights into their companies’ approaches to hybrid product development. From co-manufacturing plant-based ingredients to reimagining traditional recipes with plant-based alternatives.

5. Many strategies possible:

Panelists discussed various barriers hindering the adoption of hybrid products, including consumer resistance and misconceptions about processing. Strategies such as silent transitions, enhanced product labeling, and positioning in supermarkets were proposed to address these challenges and increase consumer acceptance. Rem van den Bosch (Seaburger) highlighted the importance of storytelling in the hybrid category. ‘People buy a brand, not a certain product’, he stated.

Accl. Session TPC

Looking ahead

As demand for alternative protein products rises, the hybrid product market offers opportunities for innovation and collaboration. Stakeholders face the challenge of unlocking hybrid products’ full potential, with the session providing insights, partnerships, and ideas to accelerate time to market.

Jeroen concluded optimistically, noting that Dutch caterers aim for a 60/40 plant/animal protein ratio by 2030, emphasizing the necessity of going hybrid to meet these targets.