Consumers trade down to save on meat, plant-based still struggles on taste, texture, 84.51˚ reports

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Getty Images - 97
Image Credit: Getty Images - 97

Related tags 84.51

Consumers are buying less expensive cuts of meat and buying more meat on sale as food prices driven up by inflation remain high, market research firm 84.51˚ shared in its latest consumer report, which also detailed shopper trends for plant-based alternatives.

In its March 2024 Real Time Insights Survey, 84.51˚ surveyed 400 Kroger shoppers​ about the purchase drivers of meats and plant-based alternatives and what would make them purchase more or less of a product. 

Overall, shoppers bought meat for health and taste reasons. 84.51˚found that 60% of consumers purchase meats because they taste good, 55% said it is a good value for the price paid, and 50% said meat keeps them feeling full.

The top product claims for meat include: hormone-free, top-rated USDA grades (including Prime, Choice, and Select), and non-GMO, with 43%, 37%, and 35% of consumers, respectively, saying that the claim was important when purchasing meat or poultry.

Consumers resort to couponing, trading down to save on meat 

When it comes to saving on meat purchases, more than half (66%) of consumers use a coupon or buy meats on sale or deal, and 61% stock up on a product to save. Shoppers are also trading down, with 37% of consumers purchasing cheaper cuts of meat, and 10% switching from organic meats to non-organic meats.

Consumers are also shifting how and what they cook to save. Almost half (43%) of shoppers said they are cooking meals with less with meat; 33% are purchasing more beans, legumes, nuts, and eggs to replace meat; and 18% are reducing protein consumption altogether. Only 12% of consumers said that they are not currently deploying any methods to save on their meat spending.

Plant-based has a health halo, but few new consumers willing to enter the category

Consumers typically purchase plant-based alternatives, including meat and dairy products, more for health and sustainability benefits. More than half of consumers (59%) said they purchase plant-based meat more because of health reasons, 42% said for sustainability or environmental reasons, 38% because of the taste and flavor of a product, and 36% for animal welfare reasons. 

Shoppers often cited issues with price, texture, and taste as top reasons why they purchased fewer plant-based alternatives. Roughly half of consumers (53%) said cost was a reason they purchased less plant-based options, 24% said texture was an issue, and 22% said taste or flavor was a factor.

Additionally, consumers who do not currently consume plant-based alternatives are less likely to try them in the future. When Kroger asked consumers how likely they were to try a plant-based alternative in the future, only 5% said that they were very likely, 48% were not likely, and 47% were moderately likely to try them. 

[Editor’s note: Interested in learning more about the fast-evolving alternative protein space? Join FoodNavigator-USA and ReThink at Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins in Chicago June 17-18. The event will include in-depth discussions about how to elevate sensory experience and strategies to diversify protein consumption with novel microbial and cell-based options. Check out the full agenda​ and register​.] 

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