FMI Report Shows Growing Interest In Plant-Based Foods

Research from the Food Industry Association reveals new opportunities for retailers to educate shoppers about alternatives to meat, dairy and other items.
Greg Sleter
Associate Publisher/Executive Editor
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Plant-based foods

The plant-based food and beverage segments continued to garner interest from a growing number of consumers with more than four in 10 shoppers saying they are putting an effort into selecting products in this growing category, according to a new report from the Food Industry Association (FMI).

In its inaugural Power of Plant-based Foods and Beverages 2022, 42% of survey respondents said they occasionally eat a meat, dairy or seafood alternative, with sales of dairy alternatives more than twice those of meat alternatives. 

“The plant-based foods most likely to be regularly consumed by shoppers are naturally plant-based — fruits and vegetables (75%) and beans, nuts, or grains (47%),” said Steve Markenson, director of research and insights for FMI

While a growing number of shoppers are turning to plant-based products, there is still a great deal of consumer education needed. Shopper feedback also indicated confusion about plant-based foods and beverages and a lack of knowledge about key attributes of these options. The majority of shoppers surveyed responded that the word “healthy” came to mind when thinking of plant-based foods and beverages. Others associated plant-based foods with words such as “vegan,” “vegetarian,” "organic” or “natural.”

“Our ethnographic research suggests consumers are seeking out plant-based foods and beverages primarily for both taste and nutrition,” said Krystal Register, senior director for health and well-being at FMI. “The food industry has an opportunity to provide guidance and educate consumers on overall healthy eating approaches that include plant-based options in alignment with the Dietary Guidelines.”  

The research found that curiosity is a major characteristic for shopper experimentation. Millennials are more likely than Gen X and Boomers to put effort into selecting plant-based foods, and nearly half of shoppers buying plant-based foods and beverages live in households making over $100,000 and have children, FMI said. Shoppers interested in these foods and beverages tend to have bigger basket sizes, but also shop online.