What do Brits think about plant-based meat?
What are consumer attitudes towards plant-based meat alternatives in England? Trade association Alternative Proteins Association has commissioned researcher Dr Christopher Bryant to find out.
Surveying residents of England about their views on plant-based meat alternatives in February 2022 revealed that consumers were familiar with the product category.
The vast majority (96%) of respondents knew what plant-based meat alternatives are, and just under three-quarters (71%) had eaten plant-based meat alternatives. This represents an increase from the 55% recorded by Harris Interactive in 2018 and the 63% recorded by YouGov in June 2021.
Less than a third (29%) said they had never eaten plant-based meat alternatives.
To investigate price sensitivity when it comes to plant-based meat, English residents were asked to indicate their preference between beef burgers and plant-based alternatives when shown a range of different price points for plant-based meat.
At price parity, less than half (45%) chose plant-based patties vs beef. When plant-based was priced lower than beef, 59% selected the plant-based burger option.
“Currently, plant-based meat alternatives tend to be more expensive than meat; at these price points, we can see many more people selecting beef patties,” noted Dr Bryant, director of consultancy Bryant Research Ltd and honorary research associate at the University of Bath. “When they are at price parity (both products at £3.50), more participants chose plant-based patties than chose beef.
“At lower prices, many more participants chose plant-based patties – 59% when priced at £3 (€3.40), and 66% when priced at £2.50.
So what would make English consumers more likely to buy plant-based meat alternatives? Most said they would be more likely to do so if production directly supported British farmers, if they were made in the UK, made using UK-sourced ingredients, and were shown to benefit British food security.
Other factors that would increase the likelihood of purchasing plant-based alternatives include if they were shown to be healthier than conventional meat, were better for the environment, and were cheaper than they are today.
Investigating consumer attitudes to the UK Government’s role in encouraging plant-based consumption, the survey revealed that 76% would prefer investment in sustainable food production over additional taxes on meat.
Seventy-seven percent agree that the government should support British entrepreneurs innovating animal product alternatives, 72% agree that the government should have a clear plan to make plant-based alternatives benefit the UK, and 79% agree that the UK should be a hub for global food innovation.
For Jeremy Coller, president of the Alternative Proteins Association – the trade association that commissioned the research – the findings ‘clearly shows that meat alternatives are here to stay’.
“The majority (53-65%) of the respondents indicated that they would be even more positive towards plant-based meat alternatives if they are made in the UK. This indicates that there’s huge potential for the UK to become a leader in the alternative proteins sector.”
The survey results come just days after the UK Government announced plans to invest £12m in a new research centre to grow cultivated meat: the UK Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub (CAMA). This Coller described as a ‘good first step’ for the UK to become a leader in alternative proteins.
“As the survey shows, a large majority (71-76%) are positive towards subsidising alternative proteins to make them cheaper. We would encourage the UK Government to continue to invest in alternative proteins to send a signal that the UK is open for business for alternative proteins.”