- Taste was the most frequently mentioned reason for repeat consumption of plant-based foods, but also remains the top barrier to trial for the industry, according to a new report from the Food Industry Association (FMI), which surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,062 U.S. grocery shoppers who are 18 years of age or older.
- Meanwhile, shoppers who are regular consumers of plant-based alternatives represent a lucrative segment of shoppers, according to the report, and include mostly Gen Z and millennials, reside in larger family households, are well educated with higher incomes and spend more on groceries.
- The majority of those who are regular plant-based alternative food and beverage consumers say they will increase their future consumption of these products. However, those who are not regular consumers of these products do not expect they will increase their consumption of plant-based alternative foods and beverages.
Confusion around plant-based products continues to be a hurdle for the space as they look to attract new consumers. What exactly defines a plant-based product, and whether or not it could be characterized as “healthy,” drew opposing responses in the survey — some shoppers focus on the presence of plants while others focus on the absence of animal products. This confusion surrounding products in the space could be contributing to the reluctance of non-plant-based eaters to try them.
Less than half of the sampled grocery shoppers expressed a willingness to try new and different types of plant-based alternatives, with taste and a lack of clear definitions for plant-based products ranking as the top reasons for this resistance. Meanwhile, 64% of shoppers who are already consuming some plant-based alternatives are much more likely to be willing to try new and different types of plant-based alternatives, the report found.
While plant-based sales have seen a slump in recent months, sales in the foodservice industry have seen a surge, with restaurants and other foodservice facilities considered to be good places for plant-based companies to focus their efforts, the report found. It noted that purchasers of plant-based meat make around 30 more trips to foodservice locations per year and spend approximately $400 more than the average buyer.
The vast majority of shoppers (84%) have tried at least one plant-based food or beverage alternative, the study found, while 66% consume these products at least occasionally. However, less than half (44%) say they include at least one plant-based food or beverage in their diets regularly (at least once a month).
Plant-based dairy milk alternatives are the only one of these plant-based alternative products to be consumed by at least one in 10 consumers daily, with 28% consuming them at least once a week.