Choice and price crucial for continued plant-based food boom, flags Innova Market Insights
The market researcher outlines its Smart Protein project, working with ProVeg International, the University of Copenhagen & Ghent University
09 Nov 2021 --- New Europe-wide consumer research from Innova Market Insights highlights a widespread desire among consumers to sample more plant-based alternatives across a range of products.
Among flexitarians, trust in the safety of plant-based products is high, but concerns remain over cost and limited choice. The market researcher also flags that the strength and breadth of demand for plant-based F&B products is growing.
As part of the EU-funded Smart Protein project – and working alongside ProVeg International, the University of Copenhagen and Ghent University – Innova Market Insights surveyed thousands of consumers across ten countries to uncover insights on plant-based products.
The Smart Protein project revealed taste and healthiness are still the most prominent purchase drivers – particularly for flexitarians – when it comes to plant-based foods, with freshness, a lack of additives and lower prices all critical considerations that could be key to how far this sector continues to grow.
Respondents were asked about their trust in plant-based products, their preferences, and how they would like to see the sector develop.
40% of consumers want to reduce meat consumption
Almost half of all respondents said they had already reduced their meat consumption significantly, with just under 40% saying they intended to do so in the future.
Additionally, around three in ten plan to reduce dairy consumption, with a similar number stating a desire to consume “substantially more” plant-based dairy and meat alternatives.
There are high levels of trust in the safety of plant-based foods among flexitarians, with 60% believing such products are accurately labeled. Around half the flexitarian respondents think there are not enough plant-based products in supermarkets or restaurants, while they perceive the available alternatives to be generally too expensive.
However, consumers expressed a desire for greater availability and range of plant-based poultry, beef, salmon, tuna and cheese offerings.
Innova Market Insights has tracked the rise in plant-based food and beverages for many years, as reflected in its annual Top Ten Trends.
This year specifically, the market researcher has outlined “Plant-Based: The Canvas for Innovation” as its number two trend, following “Shared Planet.” With personal health and global sustainability proving to be strong drivers of consumer choice, plant-based R&D has refocused from mimicking meat, fish and dairy to optimizing and diversifying options.
Addressing the need for diet variety
Consumers consider plant-based alternatives to be healthier and better for the planet. The desire for diet variation further boosts interest in plant-based beyond the traditional vegan and vegetarian sectors, leading to a 59% increase in launches of new plant-based products in the period of August 2020 to August 2021.
The company’s 2020 global consumer survey revealed a desire for tasty plant-based products which increased variety in their diets while addressing concerns around health and sustainability.
Since then, and as confirmed by the latest survey, consumers are increasingly willing to accept and seek alternatives across a broader range of products and occasions.
Demand steps up
Innovations in source proteins and finished offerings can address a clear demand for more plant-based food and beverages across Europe.
Last month, FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with innovators on the show floor of Anuga 2021, which recently took place in Germany. Plant-based development was prevalent, with companies from traditional categories, such as traditional Greek pies and Spanish cured ham, investing in animal-free innovation.
Meanwhile, the successful entry of the plant-based movement into new territories hinges on producers’ ability to align with flavors familiar to local consumers. Vegan doner kebabs, Mediterranean flavors and Asian-style grilling concepts were also highlighted at Anuga.
Further, technologies for texturizing meat alternatives have evolved in a myriad of ways to meet highly sophisticated consumer demands.
In the UK, a coalition of civil society groups and businesses recently launched a new organization, the Plant-based Food Alliance UK, to act as a voice for Britain’s growing plant-based food and drink sector.
By Elizabeth Green
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