Griffith Foods has undertaken one of the most comprehensive Pan European surveys on Alternative Protein consumer behaviour and tastes. Over the past few months, its research team has painstakingly secured opinions, insights, and data from some 4,000 consumer residents in the UK, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. The results are surprising and at the very least a massive wake-up call for the food industry.
Our data has discovered there are millions more casual consumers already converted to significant meat reduction behaviours and practices. Across each country, the vast majority of participants have only become engaged in the last 18 months. The key drivers to reduce consumption are health, the environment and ethical reasons such as animal cruelty and welfare.
Often, one individual will drive change across a household, suggesting that it may be millennials converting parents and/or siblings.
As such, these meat reducers are broadly unknown to the industry, do not wish to be labelled as Vegan or Vegetarian, are much larger in number and far more engaged to change – and reduce their meat intake – than previously thought.
The Griffith Foods team asked two key questions namely – What are the consumer approaches to reduce meat consumption/ protein and how
do we identify their needs to create more opportunities?
Damien Wurpillot, Head of Sensory & Insights, Europe, said: “The burning issue was whether the industry itself was talking to the right consumers and had its finger on the pulse of their needs. Overall, consumers are left wanting for lack of choice, indifferent flavours, and siloed options that miss huge opportunities to build out other non-meat options on the plate, in the way we all construct and complement our meals.”
The sample was broken down into categories of Meat Rejectors (no change to meat-eating), Tempted Watchers (open to change habits), Happy Reducers (changing; less likely to be meat free) and Eventual Purists (changed to Vegan, Vegetarian, 100% meat reduction journey)
o Overall, dietary habits of one individual would often influence the rest of the household. Most meat reducers have only started this journey in earnest over the last 18 months.
o There is a demand for much more choice and more adventure. Vegan or Vegetarian ranges should be more adventurous and utilise wider international cuisine ideas to package them such as Mediterranean, Chinese, and Italian.
o A single product offering such as a Veggie or Vegan burger is not enough. Producers must think bigger and factor in what other complementary choices sit on the plate, wider meal construction being key.
o Taste is absolutely essential, way above look and feel of products – specifically, more intense flavours matters most. Beyond that, consumers would like flavour and texture to be more like meat, less dry with improved texture.
o Broadly, Alternative Protein (AP) price points must be cheaper to capture wider consumer engagement and loyalty. As such, more volume makes commercial sense and a greater effort to showcase AP as a value, not expensive proposition.
o The industry offer needs to be more comprehensive, more nuanced. For example, UK trends suggest that most producers solely focus on copying red meat as a benchmark without much consideration for poultry. Germany and the Netherlands focus on poultry as the AP replacer, even though both consume equal amounts of red meat. France sits in the middle. The argument to deepen investment, broaden ranges and offer much more choice across the meat replacement category is clear.
o As AP is plant based, the industry must start a conversation around educating the consumer on AP food production in more detail. This should include more transparency on ingredients, processing the use of preservatives, additives, salt and sugar.
Wim van Roekel, President, Griffith Foods, Europe & Africa said: “Our research findings may come as a surprise to many, especially as it identified a new class of casual consumer who are reducing their meat consumption much more rapidly than thought. That has major implications for food retail manufacturers and producers, and their response to capture and cater to this newfound mass market. It’s exciting for our customers as this new demographic, still in its infancy, has a big appetite for choice and change.”
Damien Wurpillot added: “Clearly, there needs to be a significant change in the industry approach to address the interests of these consumers – noting
their on/off engagement will make this complex. Our insights support the idea that there has been a seismic cultural shift away from meat consumption – yet the market has yet to catch up. Commercially challenging yes, but also a huge opportunity. At Griffith Foods, we are already working
up responses in new healthier product concepts that lock in much more choice and of course, we are keen to share our findings and partner with customers to build solutions that will capture consumer imagination and demand.”
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