The popularity of plant-based options in dining choices reflects a progressive shift in consumer preferences, with more people embracing plant-based proteins alongside their carnivorous and omnivorous counterparts. While plant-based proteins are known for their health benefits, elevating their taste and texture can enhance the culinary experience.
In addition to their nutritional and eco-friendly advantages, plant-based products have the potential to provide even more value to consumers. To cater to budget-conscious individuals, brands can explore strategies to lower prices, such as offering discounts or smaller packaging options. Diversifying the range of plant-based products can also captivate shoppers, introducing them to exciting new meal possibilities. By focusing on innovation in frozen plant-based products, consumers can better manage inflation while enjoying the convenience of home-cooked meals. Brands can rekindle interest and enthusiasm through innovation and by addressing affordability concerns.
Negative consumer perceptions are affecting the market. From cost to taste, plant-based proteins have a few silver linings in their attributes that appeal to the masses, but even core consumers such as flexitarians, vegans and vegetarians, find that plant-based proteins are too processed. Since these groups represent the core consumer base, it is important to prioritize their concerns as well as those surrounding taste.
Nearly half of consumers have issues with the taste of plant-based proteins. Taste is crucially important in retaining audiences outside of current plant-based targets. Consumers would prefer plant-based meat alternatives (PBMAs) to be indistinguishable from meat. While brands can try to replicate the same flavor and texture, they can also celebrate indulgence with plant-based proteins through flavorful dishes to make them more exciting. Another option to consider is product innovation in the freezer aisle and on menus. During economic uncertainty, consumers are drawn to the value of frozen PMBAs, and pre-seasoned products can add convenience while reducing cooking time. Novel items such as seafood alternatives and shelf-stable products will also attract new consumers. Overall, brands will need to cater to various diets by addressing concerns with PMBAs.
TRENDS IN FLAVOR AND CONSUMPTION
Consumers are dubious about PMBAs due to low product trial. They value the taste of meat and believe it to be a more nutritious food source. Introducing PMBAs through restaurants can promote consumption and awareness.
Reasons for not purchasing plant-based meat alternatives:
PREFERENCE OF DISHES MADE WITH PBMAS vs VEGETABLE FORWARD DISHES, 2023
Dishes made with plant-based meat alternatives Vegetable-forward vegetarian dishes
Dishes made with plant-based meat alternatives
Vegetable-forward vegetarian dishes
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE MARKET
Once considered a hot commodity in food trends, plant-based proteins saw a dip in 2021, stemming from low refrigerated sales and not meeting consumer expectations. With inflation, consumers are shopping for familiarity, seeking meat and natural plant proteins like beans. Most consumers are less likely to try new foods because of inflation, which impacts interest in PMBAs. Their high cost is even deterring purchases from lapsed consumers, which is a vital group to engage.
Brands will need to address worries surrounding affordability to regain interest. However, despite the current situation, the market will see a surge in plant-based interest as younger consumers adopt more climate-friendly meals. This will continue as they age and become more affluent. Millennials will also play a part in the surge as they consume more food choices that cater to their health.
EXPANSION IN FOODSERVICE
Consumer interest in health and sustainability has contributed to the popularity in plant-based protein consumption, however it is crucial for plant-based meals to fulfill through flavor and indulgence.
Nearly a third of restaurants offer meat alternatives on menus.
Those alternatives are served at nearly half of fast casual restaurants.