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Health Continues to Drive Plant-Based Food Sales

15 June 2022 by Tom Rees, Euromonitor International

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Since the emergence and popularisation of plant-based alternatives to animal-derived foods, consumers have reported turning to these options for a number of reasons. The three most often highlighted are health concerns, interest in improving environmental footprint, and concerns regarding animal welfare. While there are plenty of other motivators (friends/family reasons, for example), research indicates that these are the “big three”.

In 2021, Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Industry: Health and Nutrition survey definitively established that health was the key growth driver for plant-based meat alternatives. At that time, 37% of respondents who ate plant-based meat alternatives stated that they did so “to feel healthier”, while 25% stated that they ate these foods to “avoid long-term health risks”. These were the top two responses overall.

Why meat alternatives in 2022?

The publication of Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Industry: Health and Nutrition survey 2022 edition offers insights into whether these motivating factors have shifted year-on-year. Since the 2021 edition, the COVID-19 pandemic has receded in many peoples’ minds due to factors such as vaccination rates, and an easing of restrictions, which might have meant health concerns had diminished. In addition, eating occasions have returned to foodservice to some extent, although this of course differs by market – in China, for example, severe restrictions and city-wide lockdowns persist. Moreover, economic concerns have come to the fore and inflation has led to surging food prices. This is a particularly relevant issue as plant-based meat alternatives have yet to achieve price-parity with animal-derived options.

Consumers were asked “what are some of the reasons why you consume processed plant-based meat alternatives?”

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Source: Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Industry: Health and Nutrition survey, fielded Jan-Feb 2021 & 2022, n=14,197

It is clear that health remains the primary driver for those consuming plant-based meat alternatives. 37% state that they eat these products to feel healthier, and 25% to avoid long-term health risks. These are once again the top two responses, ahead of wanting to reduce environmental impact (23%) and promoting animal welfare (20%).

However, while health concerns are clearly prominent (indeed, the seventh most-likely response is also health-based) the number of consumers choosing plant-based for the environment and for animal welfare is slowly growing, while health as a motivator has stayed static year-on-year.

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