Euromonitor: What's the driving force behind plant-based eating?

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Beyond Meat
Photo: Beyond Meat

Related tags: plant-based meat, Euromonitor

The bulk of the plant-based eating trend is being driven by consumers who are trying to do their part to help the environment by cutting down their meat intake, as opposed to completely eliminating meat products by following a vegetarian or vegan diet, according to Euromonitor's recent webinar led by food and nutrition consultant David Hedin.

In the US, 77% of consumers say they are concerned about climate change, and 64% said they try to have a positive impact on the environment through everyday actions such as their daily food choices, according to Euromonitor, which recently surveyed 56,974 consumers across multiple countries.

In the US, the 20% of the population which is actively trying to reduce meat intakes is also 20% more likely to be concerned about the environment, according to Euromonitor market research.

"One thing is clear, meat reduction is a bigger story than meat avoidance. Globally, you have 20% to 30% of respondents saying that, 'I'm trying to cut down on my meat intake'," ​Hedin noted during the webinar.  

While this may lead some to think that there would be a direct correlation to the number of vegans and vegetarians, looking at Euromonitor's survey data, the percentage of vegans and vegetarians in the US more than doubled between from 2015 to 2016, but then decreased by roughly half in 2017, mirroring global trends.  

Euromonitor_veganschart

"There's no clear trend in the increase of vegans and vegetarians," ​said Hedin. 

"The [top] reasons for interest in plant-based food would be climate concerns and health ambitions. Animal welfare, while important for many vegans and vegetarians, is not what's driving the trend of plant-based eating."

Beyond Meat branding makes it a global sensation

Hedin noted that strong branding is an essential tool for companies in the plant-based meat alternative category. Companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have realized that the consumers to target are flexitarians and 'meat reducers' and have tailored their marketing approach to reach this audience. 

"In the United States, if you ask investors what is the example of the most prominent, the most successful investment in the plant-based alternative space in the last ten years, most of them would say Beyond Meat. Why is that? Because they work with their brand. The marketing of Beyond Burger has shattered expectations even when it was only available in the US,"​ Hedin said. 

Hedin added that Beyond Meat has figured out how to brand its plant-based products in such a way that conveys a "lifestyle without limits and full of possibilities"​ supported by a roster of celebrity endorsers including NBA superstars such as Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O’Neal, and Chris Paul, as well as Alex Honnold, who gained fame for his rope- and harness-free climb up El Capitan, 7,569-foot rock formation in Yosemite National Park (portrayed in the Academy Award-winning Free Solo documentary).     

Beyond_Sausage_meatcase

The brand is also known for placing itself in the store alongside traditional meat products in an effort to appeal to shoppers looking to reduce their meat consumption. 

This approach has made Beyond Meat a success in international markets, now available in 40 countries worldwide.

Price could hold the market back

According to Hedin, a limiting factor that could slow down the growth trajectory of plant-based meat alternatives is price. 

"We need to realize that price is an issue,"​ said Hedin, who added that on average meat substitutes are 43% more expensive.

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