6th May 2021
Understanding Flexitarian Attitudes Towards Meat Analogues
The popularity of the plant-based market being positioned around high protein and healthy living continues to grow with more and more consumers turning to these products. Whilst these products are primarily associated with those following diets around moderation and avoidance, even those consumers who eat and drink animal produce on a regular basis can be prone to consuming these products.
The growth of plant-based popularity has also resulted in consumers adopting a flexitarian lifestyle from a niche to a mainstream dietary habit. This desire for healthier plant-based products has been driven by two key factors, environmental issues and consumers looking to lead a healthier lifestyle in the wake of COVID-19. So how do consumer attitudes changes across different consumer groups when addressing meat substitutes?
FMCG Gurus consumer insights show that a high proportion of consumers following a flexitarian diet have only been doing so for the last 12 months. When asked if they eat meat on a regular basis, 93% of flexitarians say that they only eat meat occasionally. This shows that only a small proportion of consumers classify themselves as flexitarian because they have opted to reduce/eliminate dairy intake whilst maintaining their meat-eating habits.
The research also shows that 56% of flexitarians have made attempts to reduce meat intake in the last 12 months. This means it is important that plant-based alternatives are not seen as a compromise, as many newly declared flexitarians may struggle to reduce meat intake over a long period of time.
So why are flexitarians looking to reduce their meat intake? The main reasons for this are due to 75% of flexitarians associating eating less meat with leading a healthier lifestyle. This is something of high importance as consumers look to adopt a healthier approach to life in order to combat and vulnerability to disease and illness later on in life. This desire has also been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers are now more than ever looking to address their dietary habits.
As flexitarians look to reduce their meat intake, they are turning to meat substitutes more than any other consumer group. This is highlighted as 55% of flexitarians state that they eat meat substitutes. Although meat substitutes are often associated with being better for you it is also important that they are made from natural products. FMCG Gurus research shows that 83% of flexitarians say it is important that meat substitutes are 100% natural. Consumers have been more attentive to the ingredients used in product formulation, wanting reassurance that those used are real and authentic. This shows the importance of ensuring that plant-based meat products have as few ingredients as possible, especially in order to maximize appeal amongst flexitarians.
Although consumers want healthier products, flavor holds a key role within the meat substitutes market. Consumers can often associate plant-based products with being bland and boring, highlighting the importance of flavor innovation within the market. When it comes to preferable flavors, 68% of flexitarians find meaty flavors appealing. This suggests that consumers want meat substitutes to replicate and mimic the experience of eating real meat products.
As the flexitarian dietary plan becomes more mainstream with now 1 in 4 consumers stating this, it is important to understand why they are looking to reduce meat from their diets. Many flexitarians have adopted this dietary plan within the last twelve months and may struggle to follow this for a long period of time. Therefore, it is important that brands position meat substitute products as compromise-free, the introduction of new flavor innovations, and that they are 100% natural.