- A new Nielsen study finds that nearly half of American consumers eat protein with every meal, according to Food Ingredients First. One in five consumers get this protein from a plant-based source, like nuts and seeds. The majority turn to animal sources like chicken, beef and pork.
- The study found that many consumers believe eating animal protein is healthy and unprocessed meat is good for them. More than a third think that people who don’t eat animal proteins are missing certain nutrients.
- Transparency and sustainability are also important to consumers. Of consumers polled, 35% said they would be willing to pay more for locally sourced meat, and 31% would pay more if the animal was ethically raised.
While many shoppers are interested in alternative sources of protein, it’s ultimately chicken, beef, turkey, pork and seafood they’re dropping in their grocery cart most often.
Overall, consumers say they’re trying to eat more healthfully, which includes the addition of more fruits and vegetables to their diet. According to HealthFocus data, 60% of U.S. consumers aged 15 to 70 reports to be cutting back on meat-based products. These consumers could be cutting back by doing "Meatless Mondays," but that still leaves six days of animal protein meals.
Consumers’ motives to reduce animal protein intake are largely focused on personal health and environmental concerns. The Nielsen study found a third of consumers believed that people who don’t eat animal protein are missing out on vital nutrients. This may suggest that the more altruistic concern for livestock and the environment could be a stronger driving force away from meat than previously thought.
Of the consumers who do regularly purchase animal protein, transparency was a top priority. When consumers are willing to pay more for locally sourced or ethically raised animal protein, manufacturers will take note. Major poultry producers — including Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride and Perdue — have all committed to reducing or removing antibiotics from their chicken supply. On the supermarket side, Giant Food introduced a new private label pork brand with no antibiotics or hormones, with pigs that are 100% vegetarian fed.