Plants on the mind - consumer attitudes,
behavior & consumption
Consumers are changing their consumption
habits and are actively incorporating more plant-based ingredients into their diets. According to
Mintel research, 55% of U.K. adults include vegetables in meals and 24% incorporate superfood
ingredients. Similarly, 35% of Chinese adults aged
20-49 who are hoping to achieve a healthy diet
choose vegetarian food and 14% look for products
with superfood ingredients. Meanwhile, 30% of U.S.
adults who purchase vegetables are trying to eat a
more plant-based diet.
A recent study from Technomic reported that
only 15% of consumers follow diets that restrict
consumption of animal products, while 59% eat
meatless meals at least once a week. 27% of consumers aged 18-34 regularly consume vegetarian
substitutes, compared to 15% of consumers aged
35+. Additionally, 41% of consumers are eating more
vegetables now than they did a year ago. And on
occasions when they eat vegetarian or vegan dishes,
consumers specifically seek out these items 34% of
the time on average.
To explore consumer attitudes toward plant-based
protein, ORC International conducted a study on
behalf of Lightlife with 1,047 adult participants 18
and over. The study reported that 65% of respondents believe plant-based foods are just as “hearty
and satisfying” as animal products. Furthermore,
72% of participants agree that plants are a source
of complete protein, 87% admit to eating plant
protein regularly and 40% expressed interest in more
plant-based protein innovation in the snack category.
In addition, the survey found that millennials are
more likely than Generation X respondents to reduce
animal protein consumption in the future, with 26%
committing to actively reducing animal consumption
Consumers’ eating habits are also changing when
dining out. According to a 2016 Harris Poll commissioned by The Vegetarian Resource Group, 37%
of Americans regularly order meals without fish,
meat or poultry when eating out. The 2017 Menus of
Change Annual Report showed that chefs and other
foodservice professionals are influencing consumer
behaviors with the rise of plant-forward menus,
defined as “a style of cooking that emphasizes and
celebrates — but is not limited to —plant-based foods.”
Plant-based protein is the marketing buzzword
appearing in food and beverages across multiple
applications including dairy alternatives, nutrition
and performance products and meat alternatives.
For the global food and drink market, plant-based
proteins are No. 1 for new product development.
With options like soy, lentils, hemp and chia, new
products featuring plant-based proteins increased
from 4% in 2011 to 6.5% in 2016, based on GNPD
data. Technavio predicts that the global plant protein
market is projected to grow to USD $13.67 billion by
2021, at a CAGR of more than 8% over the forecast
period. Research conducted by Packaged Facts
indicates that 37% of consumers ages 25 to 39 are
likely to seek out plant proteins, the highest of any
age group, followed by 22% of adults under age 25.
Land of milk alternatives
There has been a gradual shift away from animal-based milk products towards plant-based options
and non-dairy milk, creamers, yogurt and ice cream
have been thriving. According to Mintel, the dairy
alternative market is booming, with household penetration growing from 27.3% in 2013 to 55% in 2016.
Mintel estimates annual sales of plant-based non-dairy beverages at $2 billion, with that figure forecast
to climb to $3 billion by 2020. The global market
for dairy alternative drinks is expected to reach U.S.
$16.3 billion in 2018, up dramatically from U.S.
$7.4 billion in 2010, according to Innova Market
Insights. Technomic also sees an increasing demand
for dairy-free creamers made with plant-based milks
and reported total volume for non-dairy beverage
creamers rose 13% last year, in contrast to total sales
decline and nearly flat volume growth of dairy-based
creamers. There has been so much activity in nut
milks that there are lawsuits by dairy producers challenging if plant-based milk producers can reference
Califia Farms offers Homestyle Organic Nutmilks, a premium line of USDA
Certified Organic dairy alternative beverages formulated with organic nuts,
water, oat fiber and sea salt in Almond, Cashew and Coconut flavors. Photo
courtesy of Califia Farms.