Recent landmarks in the plant-based world such as Gathered Food’s vegan seafood production and Epicurious striking red meat from its publication have redefined what consumers can expect from brands, and now, major companies have accelerated distribution efforts to make meat and dairy-free foods kitchen staples nationwide. But what brands stand out?

Hosted by the data consulting firm Kantar, the Product of the Year Awards announced that Quorn’s ChiQin Cutlets and Daiya Cheese have been chosen as the 2022 Products of the Year in meatless and plant-based categories, respectively. The data agency claims that this product award is the largest consumer-voted award for product development, indicating what people really want to eat. The firm claims that by surveying 40,000 American shoppers, the awards properly showcase America’s most desired products for the year.

“Given the continued flux and uncertainty over the past two years, we’re prouder than ever to provide consumers with the vote of 40,000 fellow shoppers as a guide they can trust when making important purchase decisions for themselves and their families,” Global CEO of Product of the Year Management Mike Nolan said. “One of the great strengths of Product of the Year is that we champion manufacturers for putting forward products that reflect the latest trends and offer consumers the solutions they’re looking for.”

The Product of the Year Award aims to highlight the most exciting, experimental, and tasty foods from more than 40 categories, but these two plant-based winners indicate which big names American consumers pay attention to at the grocery store. Both Quorn and Daiya have accelerated their production and distribution efforts as demand for plant-based foods continues to increase. Now, approximately 33 percent of shoppers consider themselves “mostly vegetarian,” actively looking for sustainable foods.

Quorn is consistently challenging the extent of its sustainability practices. Already far more environmentally friendly than conventional chicken production, the company revealed it reduced its carbon footprint by 33 percent and transitioned to approximately 80 percent recyclable packaging. Quorn’s plant-based meat uses 12 times less water than real ground beef.

Sustainability is increasingly important to shoppers worldwide as the climate crisis becomes more outwardly apparent. A recent study from Cargill – ironically one of North America’s largest meat producers – commissioned a survey that found 55 percent of people claim they would be more likely to purchase food that included a sustainability promise.

For years, Daiya’s vegan cheese pioneered the plant-based dairy market, providing one of the first widely available cheese alternatives. The plant-based brand has established itself as a household name, boasting a product that aims to cut down unnecessary environmental harm, reduce animal cruelty, and promote healthier eating. Daiya also recently just redesign its plant-based recipe to taste better, melt quicker, and feel more like dairy-based cheese using a new blend of oats and chickpeas.

“In an ever-changing consumer landscape, the annual Product of the Year Awards are a go-to resource for those looking to find the best new products on the market, whether they're shopping online or in-store,” the Product of the Year USA stated in a press release. “With a distinctive red seal that is globally recognized as the vote of confidence from consumers themselves, shoppers can easily cut through the clutter and trust that these products demonstrate the utmost innovation in their respective categories, whether in function, design, packaging, or ingredients.”

Quorn Bets Big on Vegan Chicken

Ahead of this year's Veganuary celebration, the England-based vegan meat brand launched five new realistic plant-based chicken products made from its signature mycoprotein ingredient. The company released Southern Fried Wings, Garlic Herb Bites, Sweet Chili Mini Fillets, Jerk Mini Fillets, and Creamy Korma Bites. The new vegan chicken selection adds to an impressive selection of vegan meats and positions itself at the forefront of the growing plant-based chicken competition.

Since its founding, Quorn has expanded its distribution to 14 countries with plans to continue entering new markets. But first, the plant-based company intends to increase its presence within the United States. Recently, Quorn opened its Culinary Development Center in Dallas Texas to increase its American presence and develop new delicious plant-based meats that would be ready for food service distribution. Quorn is aiming to catch American consumers' attention and the latest product award results indicates that the company is seeing extreme success within the US.

“There’s going to be a significant amount of money coming to the US organization, which will allow us to increase innovation, expand our marketing budgets, hire more people, and fund our new culinary center in Dallas, so we’re really excited about where we’re headed,” Quorn President Judd Zusel said. “The US meat alternative space is worth $5 billion and we’re positioned very well to take advantage of that.”

The 6 Best Fast Food Chains With Plant-Based Options on the Menu

Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

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