Most Americans Choose Plant-Based Food For The Taste, Study Finds

<p>A study that polled nearly 2,000 US consumers participating in a plant-based diet suggests that people are choosing with their tastebuds.</p>


May 15 2019, Updated 4:45 p.m. ET

More Americans are switching over to a plant-based diet simply because it tastes good. For a long time, people stereotyped plant-based foods as tasting "bland" or simply not as good as animal-based products. Luckily, there's been a wide range of innovation in vegan and vegetarian food in recent years, and it's starting to appeal to people's taste buds. And of course, this helps the environment, too. According to a study from Mintel, 52 percent of the United States choose plant-based foods for their own enjoyment above any other reason. 

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Mintel, a marketing agency that spans 34 different countries, performed the study with 1,876 US citizens aged 18 and older that eat plant-based proteins. Opting for the new diet on taste is more than half of those choosing it for losing weight, protecting animals, saving the environment, and general health concerns -- all combined. When it comes to buying food at the store, 65 percent of the time, taste is on the consumer’s mind.

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Still, health remains on the backburner. 46 percent of Americans believe that proteins from plants are healthier than when they come from animals. Marketing the healthy reasons to switch to a plant-based diet has worked with a massive 76 percent of those agreeing with the benefits. Nearly 40 percent of people now go out of their way to avoid processed foods.

“Americans are more and more avoiding food products with artificial ingredients and GMOs, and vegetarian, vegan and free-from foods have grown to be regarded as healthier options,” Billy Roberts, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, said in the report

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“Despite the fact that health attributes, particularly free-from, factor strongly in consumer decisions when purchasing plant-based proteins, at the end of the day, taste is the driving force behind purchase and eating decisions.”

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Nearly half of those polled (46 percent) believed the “functional claims of plant-based foods.” That number could go up if companies are even more transparent on the benefits of these foods or where the ingredients are coming from. 71 percent of them believe that companies could do a better job at giving this information to consumers.

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As expected, costs are the biggest issue that’s going to hinder the increase in plant-based sales. 57 percent of American consumers believe that it’s significantly more expensive than traditional items, and that’s an even higher 64 percent when looking into the age 18-34 demographic.

Brand recognition and major corporations jumping onto the plant-based bandwagon could help. 47 percent of the same demographic said they’re willing to spend more on companies they trust. It’s also important for these companies to continue developing plant-based meat. 67 percent of Americans believe that meat is needed for a balanced diet.

“The majority of consumers look for plant-based proteins in meat, cheese and milk, which suggests that alternative meats and dairy products will find appeal, resulting in increased consumption,” Roberts said in the report.

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