Thursday, May 23, 2019
Food for Thought: What do consumers think of plant-based diets?
If you are sitting on the fence regarding entering the plant-based, non-dairy segment, here’s some data to consider from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2019 Food and Health Survey. Recently released, this edition marks the 14th consecutive year that the IFIC Foundation has surveyed American consumers to understand their perceptions, beliefs and behaviors around food and food-purchasing decisions. This is the first year plant-based questions were included. The findings are mixed. It will be interesting to see how they compare in a year.
Familiarity and interest in plant-based diets is high. Interestingly, even a seemingly straightforward term like “plant-based” is subject to interpretation. About three-quarters (73%) of people say they have heard of plant-based diets, and about half (51%) are interested in learning more about them. Consumers who have tried any diet in the past year are far more likely to have heard of plant-based diets than those who have not tried a diet in the past year (82% vs. 68%).
Animal products are a more popular source of protein than plants, with 52% of survey takers saying they eat animal protein at least once per day versus 34% who say they eat plant-based protein. Within the past year, 24% of consumers reported eating more plant protein than the previous year, while only half as many (12%) said they ate more animal protein.
Regardless of the impact on purchasing decisions, over half of consumers (54%) say it’s at least somewhat important that the products they buy be produced in an environmentally sustainable way. Among those 54%, many look for specific labels or attributes to assess whether they believe a product is environmentally sustainable: 51% perceive products that are locally produced as environmentally sustainable, followed by products literally labeled as sustainably produced (47%), labeled as non-GMO/not bioengineered (47%), labeled as organic (44%), having recyclable packaging (41%) and having minimal packaging (35%).
If you are in the plant-based business, you may want to consider some sustainability messaging. This, however, may take a toll on your dairy product lines if you cannot provide some quantifiable sustainability story here, too. Hmmm…this is a tough one.
Clean eating should also be part of your messaging, if applicable.
One in 4 consumers actively seek health benefits from foods. Although many say they simply try to eat healthy in general, 23% of consumers say they actively seek out foods or follow a diet for health benefits. Most often the benefits they seek are weight loss, energy, digestive health and heart health.
This should provide some fodder for your kick-off-to-summer long holiday weekend. Hope it’s enjoyable.