Consumer acceptance of plant-based meats and other alternative proteins continues to grow and a recent survey of shoppers revealed that improved taste and lower prices could lead more to trying meatless alternatives.
A recent survey by Veylinx of more than 3,500 U.S. consumers aged 18 years and older revealed that while only 5% of respondents identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian, 77% said they could be convinced to buy meat alternatives more frequently. Those surveyed said improved taste and lower prices are the two big factors that would help persuade them to try plant-based alternatives.
"While we may be approaching a saturation point for products like burger patties and hot dogs—making it difficult to win shelf space and market share—our research shows there are still plenty of categories like seafood, jerky, and ready-to-eat meals where consumers are seeking more varied plant-based options," said Anouar El Haji, CEO of Veylinx.
He said brands can succeed in these categories by launching products that taste good and are competitively priced, even if they don’t duplicate the taste and texture of meat.
“We also found that consumers are willing to buy unfamiliar protein innovations like mycoprotein, microalgae, and even edible insects—especially when they are incorporated into packaged foods like frozen lasagna and jerky," El Haji added.
Meat-based proteins drive the most purchase interest, but alternatives trail closely, with consumers expressing varied preferences for substitutes across categories. Cultivated (i.e., lab-grown) meat is the preferred alternative for burgers, jerky, nuggets and filet mignon; plant-based with meat-like properties drives the greatest demand for bacon and lasagna, and microalgae is favored for sushi.
While insect protein ranks last for both sushi and jerky, it garners purchase interest from 29% of consumers. Shoppers are also willing to pay extra for plant-based lasagna and plant-based bacon—even more than for beef lasagna and pork bacon.
Other key findings in the survey include:
Hot dogs labeled as “meatless” instead of “vegan” boosted demand by 16%.
The study found that consumers tend to buy alternative proteins for personal benefits such as "healthier than meat" (42%) and because they "prefer the taste" (35%).
When it comes to changing their habits and buying alternative proteins more often, 23% say that nothing could convince them to purchase meat alternatives more frequently.
Gen Z consumers express more willingness to change their diets, with 87% stating that they could be persuaded to buy more meatless products.