Variety Of Plant Based Meat, Food To Reduce Carbon Footprint
Variety of plant based meat, food to reduce carbon footprint

For both animal products and alternative proteins, taste and value are key, according to a new “Innovations in Alternative Proteins” report from the International Food Information Council (IFIC).

For the report, IFIC interviewed 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older about their meat consumption habits, willingness to try alternative proteins, and their understanding of new and innovative alternatives. 

Taste, value, and appearance drive animal meat purchases

More than half of Americans (54%) eat animal meat on a daily basis, and more than a third (36%) eat it weekly. And taste (42%), value (37%), and general appearance (33%) are the highest priorities for meat purchasers. 

Younger consumers (ages 18-34) were more likely to give weight to the source of the meat as well as labels including “natural,” “organic,” and “healthy.” Consumers 35 and older were more likely to prioritize value, while those 55 and above were more likely to rank availability as important. 

Curiosity, health spark interest in alternatives, but taste deters repeat buys 

More than half (57%) of Americans said they’ve tried alternative proteins, most commonly plant-based ground beef (31%) and beef alternatives (23%), plant-based sausage (22%), and plant-based chicken alternatives (22%). 

Curiosity (50%), belief that such products are healthier (40%), and recommendations from friends and family (30%) were the most common reasons for trying alternative proteins. When asked about the most appealing ingredients in such products, customers who tried them rated soybeans (55%), mushrooms (52%), and peas (43%) the highest.

While 31% who gave alternative proteins a try eat them more frequently now, 14% eat them less and 22% haven’t tried them again. More than half (51%) of consumers who tried alternative proteins for the first time said they weren’t willing to try them again due a taste that didn’t resemble animal meat. Many also said that members of their household didn’t like the overall taste (29%) or texture (24%) and that it was too expensive (25%). 

Many consumers unfamiliar with cell-cultured products, but willing to try 

Many Americans said they’ve never heard of newer alternative proteins, including mycoprotein (71%); cell-cultured (60%), cell-based (55%), and cultivated (48%) meat; and fermented protein (59%). But once they were provided with definitions for these products, IFIC found that interest in cell-based/lab-grown protein had grown to 42% since their 2021 survey (up from 24%), while interest in fermented food products rose from 27% to 37%. 

Consumers who said they were “very interested” in cell-cultured meat cited curiosity (32%), environmental sustainability (28%), and the lack of animal slaughter (28%) as the main drivers. Americans who expressed less or no interest said taste and texture (36%), price (28%), and safety (23%) would have the most impact on their willingness to try such products.

Similarly, affordability (58%), a taste comparable to animal meat (57%), and a product from a trusted brand (56%) were ranked the most important influencers of consumers’ willingness to buy a cell-cultured chicken product. 

For more insights on how consumers view meat alternatives, see IFIC’s full report

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