Mintel consumer survey highlights opportunities and challenges for plant-based meat

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Kroger
Picture: Kroger

Related tags: plant-based meat, Mintel

Despite growing interest in plant-based foods, the majority of meat eaters believe ‘real meat’ is the best source of protein, while nearly half of consumers who identify as flexitarians, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans – diets that limit or eliminate meat – also share this sentiment, according to a new report from Mintel.

73% of carnivores and 63% of omnivores agreed with the statement that 'real meat is the best source of protein,' along with 46% of flexitarians and 49% of vegetarians, vegans or pescatarians, noted Mintel in its new US plant-based proteins report​ (based on a March 2020 online survey of 2,000 US adults).

Meanwhile, 35% of carnivores, 61% of flexitarians, and 71% of vegetarians, vegans or pescatarians, agreed with the statement that ‘Plant-based foods can provide all the protein a person needs.'

While those who avoid meat show higher confidence that plant foods can provide adequate protein," ​noted Mintel, "it is clear that education is needed to assure consumers across dietary spectrums that plant-based protein is not inferior to protein from meat​.”

Older adults and men most likely to prefer animal-based meat

Among adults who do not eat plant-based meat alternatives, the top reason is that they prefer 'real meat,' said Mintel. “Many adults who feel this way are unlikely to consider plant-based alternatives, as the importance of meat in their diets is habitual. Older adults and men in particular are prone to prefer animal-based meat, reflecting meal traditions engrained in societal norms.”

When it comes to plant-based options currently on the market, plant-based burgers that attempt to mimic the taste and texture of ‘real’ meat have been the “gateway to mainstream attention, especially in food service settings where real meat is the norm​,” added Mintel.

However, many adults would like to see more variety in both forms and protein sources in plant-based products.

Consumers of meat alternatives are seeking variety, and offerings beyond the ubiquitous burger can help brands stand out in an increasingly crowded market. Additionally, sourcing more diverse ingredients can help brands attract a wider audience. While many leading meat-alternative brands use soy, wheat or pea proteins as their main ingredients, consumers show interest in a wide variety of plant-based protein sources, from lentils and fava beans to nuts and seeds.”


The Impossible Burger is now available at Trader Joe's, says Impossible Foods, which has been aggressively ramping up its retail presence this year, with distribution expanding from around 150 stores at the start of 2020 to more than 5,000 today including Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Gelson’s, H-E-B, Kroger, Safeway, Stop & Shop, Wegmans and more.

We’re particularly excited about the launch of Impossible at Trader Joe’s, a beloved institution with die hard fans and a company known particularly for its great meat, cheese and wine selection,​" said Impossible Foods’ President Dennis Woodside. 

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Perceived health benefits remain the #1 purchase driver for plant-based foods according to new consumer research from innovation consultancy Mattson, although environmental factors, taste (in the case of plant-based dairy), and the sense that ‘I feel better when I eat plant-based foods’ are all gaining in importance. Read more HERE

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