The Plant Based Food Association (PBFA) definitely thinks so and acts as an advocate for the plant based industry. Whether it’s helping develop policy for plant based products, looking at the market place and helping companies grow, consumer sentiment, getting products on shelves, and even acting as a connector to business to business.
Joey Thurman: Laddie, plant-based food association. Why do we need to plant-based food association?
Maddie Segal: A great question. One of our key roles in the industry is to defend our members' rights to use common sense and clear labeling terms like meat, milk, and eggs on their packaging. Seems pretty straightforward.
Joey Thurman: You would think so.
Maddie Segal: You would. Yeah, but there's many in the industry who would kind of want to limit our members' rights to use those terms, because it adds extra barrier to plant-based foods. This is a really explosive industry it's growing really fast and there are some people who are uncomfortable with that growth. So, one of our main efforts is to help just make a fair and competitive marketplace and defend the legislation that is best for the members.
Joey Thurman: That makes a lot of sense. Plant-based milk, plant-based meat, there's all sorts of different plant-base, so I mean, people are kind of like the Capulets and Montagues on that.
Maddie Segal: Yeah. Well, so plant-based has been around for a really long time, 20- maybe even 30-years, but it's really hit its stride in the past three to five years as we've seen. So the market is just explosive and consumers are really seeking these products out and we know that for a fact. And so they're already used to the way that plant-based companies are labeling their products, right. If we want to search for a plant-based milk, we go and search for a plant-based milk. We don't go search for plant-based oat juice or something like that. I mean, this sounds pretty gross.
Joey Thurman: I don't want oat juice
Maddie Segal: No, right? Me either. So that's what we're really trying to defend is the labeling terms that we're already used to as consumers and that we are seeking.
Joey Thurman: And what projects are you working on right now?
Maddie Segal: We take three major key stances for the industry. So we have our policy work, which I've mentioned. And then we also do a lot of marketplace work. So within the marketplace work, we work to study the size and growth of the industry, study consumers, where are they hoping to see plant-based products merchandised? And then we advise retailers on where to merchandise those products and help make some of those B2B connections that help you to find those plant-based products in the aisle. And then lastly, we, as an association, do some of the basic membership things like networking and just helping people connect with each other and get the products on the shelves.
Joey Thurman: Speaking of connection, IFT, there's a lot of plant-based leaders right now. Why is it important for so many plant-based leaders to be in one, well, massive room?
Maddie Segal: This isn't a plant-based conference, but I think you've kind of alluded to something that I'm finding at the conference.
Joey Thurman: There is a lot of plant-based.
Maddie Segal: It's everywhere. And every booth, I actually went to a booth this morning and I walked up and they were doing protein solutions and they looked at me and they said "disclaimer, if you're looking for plant-based proteins, we don't do that". And I said, "oh, why did you give that disclaimer?" And the guy said, "Everybody's asking about plant-based and we don't have it." It was just like he was left out of the club. To get to your point of your question though. Yeah. It's important for us all to come together because this is where the magic really happens. We're all in a post-COVID era with Zoom and everything. And as great as Zoom is these in person connections are where the really cool stuff happens.
Joey Thurman: Yeah. You're a real person, I can see you.
Maddie Segal: I know, right?
Joey Thurman: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean you have crab cake breath and I have hot sauce breath. That's fine.
Maddie Segal: Yeah. It's a good combo.
Joey Thurman: I snuck that in there. At IFT there's there's a lot of things to be excited about. Is there anything that gets you excited now for future food tech coming up?
Maddie Segal: Oh, wow. I mean, really the innovation I've seen at this show has been incredible, especially in regards to plant-based. Speaking of, I just went and tried a crab cake and I was blown away at how good it was. And they were really just showcasing how good these products are becoming and how fantastic these ingredient companies are at providing the solutions that the industry needs. So for me, I'm excited that all these suppliers are coming together to really address issues that we've seen in plant-based with flavor masking or mouth feel. And then now we just get to have all these awesome plant-based food manufacturers, take and get creative, and we're going to really see some awesome stuff come out of the marketplace here pretty soon.
Joey Thurman: That's great from plant-based crab cakes to milks and people calling out why they don't have plant-based. Thank you so much for coming on.
Maddie Segal: Of course, my pleasure.