The consumer industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by guided health, wellbeing, and personalized nutrition, and growing importance of technologies such as plant-based alternative proteins, 3D food printing, and digital food management. In the last three years alone, there have been over 662,000 patents filed and granted in the consumer industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in consumer: plant-based cheese substitutes. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

30+ innovations will shape the consumer industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the consumer industry using innovation intensity models built on over 116,000 patents, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, microencapsulated proteins, plant-based cheese substitutes, and texturized vegetable proteins are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Botulinum toxin, beverage pods, and filled confectionary manufacturing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are anabolic muscle supplements and protein-fortified beverages, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the consumer industry

Plant-based cheese substitutes is a key innovation area in consumer

Plant-based cheese substitutes are dairy-free alternatives to cheese made from animal milk that mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of traditional cheese. These substitutes can be made from a range of plant-based sources, including nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains, and often incorporate scientific methods to achieve cheese-like properties.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established consumer companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of plant-based cheese substitutes.

Key players in plant-based cheese substitutes – a disruptive innovation in the consumer industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.  

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to plant-based cheese substitutes

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Chr. Hansen 55 Unlock Company Profile
Impossible Foods 44 Unlock Company Profile
Savencia 23 Unlock Company Profile
Fuji Oil 16 Unlock Company Profile
CJ 12 Unlock Company Profile
Otsuka 9 Unlock Company Profile
Sapporo 8 Unlock Company Profile
Royal DSM 8 Unlock Company Profile
Pulmuone 7 Unlock Company Profile
Marubeni 6 Unlock Company Profile
Kikkoman 6 Unlock Company Profile
House Foods Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Valsoia 5 Unlock Company Profile
Consejo Superior Investigacion 3 Unlock Company Profile
Morehands 3 Unlock Company Profile
Shin-Etsu Chemical 3 Unlock Company Profile
Nissui 2 Unlock Company Profile
Oy Karl Fazer 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kerry Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Dae Sang FNF 2 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 2 Unlock Company Profile
Asahi Food Processing 2 Unlock Company Profile
Dr. Chung’s Food 1 Unlock Company Profile
CJ CheilJedang 1 Unlock Company Profile
Taiki Product 1 Unlock Company Profile
AAK 1 Unlock Company Profile
Fuji Oil 1 Unlock Company Profile
EnWave 1 Unlock Company Profile
Nagase 1 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 1 Unlock Company Profile
Archer Daniels Midland 1 Unlock Company Profile
Kanematsu 1 Unlock Company Profile
Riken Vitamin 1 Unlock Company Profile
Fazer Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Luya Foods 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Chr. Hansen is one of the leading patent filers in plant-based cheese substitutes. Some other key patent filers in the space include Impossible Foods, Savencia, and Fuji Oil. Chr. Hansen has introduced the innovative VEGA Boost cultures, enabling the creation of a dairy-free cream cheese. According to the company, this plant-based cream cheese alternative offers a nutritional composition comparable to that of dairy cream cheese.

In terms of application diversity, Consejo Superior Investigacion leads the pack, with Shin-Etsu Chemical and Marubeni in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Chr. Hansen holds the top position, followed by Impossible Foods and Savencia.

Plant-based cheese substitutes will find increased adoption among people in the coming years. Many people are becoming more health-conscious and are seeking alternatives to traditional dairy products. Plant-based cheese substitutes often have lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol compared to dairy cheese, making them a healthier option for individuals looking to reduce their intake of these components.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the consumer industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Consumer.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.