- Increased consumption of plant-based meats may not directly lead to a more positive sentiment higher fondness for the products, according to a new study in the international journal Appetite, which specializes in cultural influences on the selection and intake of foods and drinks. Instead, the context of how the altneratives are used could matter more.
- The study examined how consumers prepare plant-based meats at home and whether that influences perception of these items. Around 60 participants with meat-heavy diets prepared, consumed and evaluated two plant-based meat meals a week for four weeks — one from a meal kit, one self-created.
- Although consumer acceptance didn’t change with repeated consumption of plant-based meat, it did vary based on the recipes and cuisine styles used. The context of how plant-based foods were used mattered both for meal boxes and self-created recipes.
Consumer acceptance has been a steep hurdle for the plant-based meat industry. Creativity will be key in presenting plant-based products, including by providing recipes and catering to different cuisine types to avoid consumer “boredom”, according to the study.
Earlier this month, plant-based meat pioneer Beyond Meat reported negative sales growth for the sixth quarter in a row and CEO Ethan Brown told investors that there are broader “health-related misconceptions” facing the category.
Another study from the National Institute of Health found that meat attachment — a term used to describe a positive bond with the consumption of meat — contributed to a low consumption of plant-based meat alternatives. The study also found that under a blindfold, meat products were strongly preferred over plant-based alternatives in terms of sensory characteristics.
Although regular consumers of plant-based products said they will continue to be repeat purchasers, taste remained the number one barrier to trial for the industry, another study from from the Food Industry Association found.
The study measured how much participants liked the taste and texture of the plant-based meat, as well as how much they enjoyed the entire meal. And although the participants ate more plant-based products during the study, their fondness of it remained the same.
Miyoko’s Creamery’s CEO Stuart Kronauge has said the company is going “back to the basics,” in order to win over a broader consumer base. The company plans to cut through some of the confusion within the plant-based space by educating consumers through simple messaging.
In October, Beyond Meat launched a “This Changes Everything” campaign with an aim to reinforce the health benefits of its plant-based meat products.
Even after a certification from the American Heart Association claiming its products as heart healthy foods, and backing from actor Rizwan Manji, who is best known for his part on Schitt’s Creek, the California company still struggles to overcome the steep hurdle of consumer acceptance.