What do consumers really think of meat alternatives?

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

What do consumers really think of meat alternatives - and what are they actually looking for in products? FoodNavigator caught up with a global Mintel analyst at IFT to find out.

Market research firm Mintel bases its findings on consumer surveys to identify purchase intent and information gleaned from its global new products database, which tracks product launches around the world.

According to Mintel analyst Patty Johnson, the data shows three key elements: Consumers buying plant-based proteins are keen readers of ingredient lists; they want recognisable, vegetable-based ingredients; and products that are in convenient formats that mimic meat have the most success.

“If [ingredient composition] is not a concern, it should be. Consumers are scrutinising the labels of meat alternatives, and we saw from our data that over 70% of consumers, when buying a meat alternative product they’ve never purchased before, they read that labe," ​she said.

Johnson added consumers want to see “identifiable vegetable ingredients​” in meat alternatives.

“Ingredients are an important topic and what [manufacturers] base these products on is important for consumers,” ​she said.

Some of the products that we’ve seen meet success out there in the market place are ‘veggie identified’. They take vegetables as the number one ingredient, particularly in burgers, with beans, kale and spinach​.

“We’ve seen a big rise in pea protein being utilised as an ingredient base, and that seems to be very well accepted in the US,”​ she said, adding that the US is at the forefront of meat alternative product development globally.

The health benefits of pulses in general are well regarded,” ​she added.

Nevertheless, consumers want products to come in convenient and recognisable formats that replicate traditional meat applications.

At this point, the products that mimic meat are doing the best, and that’s because they provide a bridge for people who are decreasing their meat consumption versus going vegan. For people who are trying to have a Meatless Monday, the products that can stand in for meat products are the ones that will be adopted first. They are a familiar format mimicking familiar flavors.”

Mintel’s global new products database has noted a particular boom in plant-based burger and sausage launches.

© Mintel

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