Demand for Meat Alternatives Is Rising, But What Do Consumers Really Want?

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Demand for Meat Alternatives Is Rising, But What Do Consumers Really Want?

Meat alternatives

CHICAGO — Factors such as health, ethical concerns and the rising cost of meat are motivating consumers to turn to meat alternatives, and the attributes of taste and clean label are increasingly becoming significant drivers as well.

As these alternatives attract younger consumer, time-saving and ease-of-use products can sustain the popularity of meat alternatives, according to Mintel.

Millennials are major consumers of meat alternatives, as:

  • Nearly eight in 10 U.S. millennials eat meat alternatives, compared to more than half of non-millennials;
  • Nearly a third of millennials are attempting to eat a more plant-based diet, compared to more than one quarter of non-millennials; and
  • A third of U.S. consumers plant to buy more vegetarian or plant-based food products in the next year, increasing to nearly two in five millennials.

The increased consumption of meat alternatives and meat reduction are both driven by health concerns, with almost half of U.S. consumers citing them as their reason for consuming plant-based proteins. Such concerns include heart health and weight management. Nearly six in 10 U.S. consumers are interested in eating less meat, rising to two thirds of older millennials ages 31-40.

However, taste remains the overall top priority for meat alternatives. Products whose packaging does not convey tastiness will not inspire trial, and those that don't taste good will not result in re-purchase, Mintel said. Clean label attributes such as no artificial ingredients, non-GMO and protein are also becoming must-haves.

Mintel also found that millennials' redefinition of from-scratch cooking as including component-style assembly of prepared and partially prepared food could create more opportunities for alternative protein components. The demographic is also more likely to prepare international cuisines when cooking at home, with four in 10 U.S. millennials cooking dishes from different cultures at least once a week, compared to one-quarter of all consumers who cook.