Catering To The Plant-Based Consumer


With more people opting for a plant-based alternative in their morning latte, whether at home or on the go, baristas worldwide are looking for options that provide the right taste and texture.

To meet this demand, Nestlé Professional has been increasing its range of plant-based dairy alternatives for food service professionals, leveraging Nestlé's global research and development expertise on plant-based innovation. It also shares that expertise with baristas and other out-of-home providers with a series of webinars led by the team of Nestlé Professionals.

A focus of recent out-of-home launches has been in Asia; a Nestlé Barista plant-based coconut drink was launched in Thailand earlier this year, primarily for use in cold beverages to meet consumer tastes there.

In China, Nestlé has launched two new plant-based dairy alternatives in the past year - one pea- and one oat-based - under the Nestlé Barista brand. Baristas developed the drinks, which can be used in hot and cold coffee and tea applications that meet local tastes.

Furthermore, a barista-focused dairy alternative made with peas was launched under the Nestlé Barista brand and launched in South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.

In Latin America, the Nature's Heart Barista plant-based oat drink was launched in Brazil at the end of 2022 for hot and cold applications. The beverage is easy to steam and pour, perfect for latte art.

The Nature's Heart brand also rolled out a powdered plant-based creamer based on rice, designed for Nescafé automatic machines. This new product enables customers with self-service machines to also offer plant-based drinks to their consumers.

Manuel Aleman, Global Category Lead Coffee Ingredients and Plant-Based Beverages at Nestlé Professional, explained that the trend towards more plant-based options remained, with around 40 percent of consumers worldwide already moving to a diet with less or no animal products.

"Taste is key for people to choose and stay in the category, especially flexitarians who are an important target group for dairy alternatives in and out of the home," said Aleman.

In addition to the recently launched out-of-home offerings, Nestlé has a strong and growing portfolio of plant-based dairy alternatives that people can use at home. A recent addition to the retail space is the oat and fava plant-based beverages launched in the USA under the natural bliss brand.

With wide-ranging innovation expertise in both dairy products and alternatives to dairy, Nestlé is well-equipped to deliver relevant solutions for out-of-home use across different countries.

Zenon Mandralis, head of research and development for Nestlé Professional, said the company aims to offer baristas and its customers plant-based alternatives that are easy to froth, making the perfect latte or cappuccinos.

"Our scientists, product developers and baristas work together to ensure that the products are also great-tasting and nutritious, with the right foam texture, mouthfeel, and appearance," said Mandralis.

Research and development experts primarily drive this work at Nestlé's largest research and development centre for milk and milk alternatives in Konolfingen, Switzerland. The centre collaborates closely with the Nestlé Professional research and development team in Orbe, Switzerland, to ensure that the products are adapted for use in professional machines at cafés, bars and restaurants worldwide. Through Nestlé's regional innovation centres, including in China, the products are further tailored to local taste preferences, beverage menu variety, and dietary needs.