Vegetarian consumers feel left out in today’s market, Ingredient Communications reports

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Getty Images - 	Aja Koska
Image Credit: Getty Images - Aja Koska

Related tags vegetarian Plant-based foods

Vegetarian consumers are increasingly dissatisfied with the food choices available to them, as 100% plant-based might have deterred some shoppers, according to research conducted by market research company SurveyGoo and commissioned by Ingredient Communications.

A 2023 online survey of 1,000 US and UK consumers found that vegetarians net satisfaction rating for the choice of foods available to them fell from +47% in 2018 to +8% in 2023. The net satisfaction among US vegetarians dropped to -10%, down from 38% in 2018, while the UK saw a lesser decline, with UK vegetarians having a +20% net satisfaction, down from 55% in 2018. 

However, the net satisfaction scores for all vegan surveyed have increased by a total of +17% compared to +2% in 2018. Net satisfaction scores among US vegans increased to -3% in 2023 from -9% in 2018, though UK vegan registered a slight decline in net satisfaction, going from +28% in 2018 to +25% in 2023. 

Consumers also rated how appealing certain plant-based meat products were. Most (95%) vegans said plant-based products look tasty compared to 56% of vegetarians, and 91% of vegans said alt-dairy products are appealing, as opposed to 60% of vegetarians. 

“High levels of dissatisfaction and declining net satisfaction rates among vegetarians indicate a concerning trend that needs further scrutiny. Of particular interest is that fewer vegetarians find plant-based meat and dairy products appealing. This might help to explain why net satisfaction levels are so much lower among these consumers,” Richard Clarke, managing director of Ingredient Communications, said in a press release. 

Clarke added the “rush to go 100% plant-based” meant that some brands and retailers might have focused too specifically on the needs of vegans over vegetarians. When it comes to eating preferences, 4% of more than 1,000 US consumers surveyed said they identify as vegetarian, compared to 1% who said they are vegan, according to Gallup's August 2023 Consumption Habits poll​. 

“The findings of our survey reinforce the golden rule of food manufacturing: That it’s essential to use the very best ingredients to deliver an excellent eating experience. The days have long gone when vegans and [vegetarians] were simply grateful to have something – anything – they could eat. They want and expect the best.”

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