Sustainability and health driving plant-based category

Published: 18-May-2022

Research from Kerry has also suggested customers feel plant-based products fall short in taste compared to animal products

Taste and nutrition company Kerry has published consumer research suggesting sustainability and health concerns are driving consumers to plant-based meat alternatives, however the taste experience of these products continues to fall short.

In 2022, the company carried out research with more than 1,500 consumers across four countries (US, UK, Australia and Brazil) to uncover sensory expectations around plant-based burgers and cheese alternative slices. The research found flexitarians, the key consumer group driving the growth of the plant-based category, are more critical of products versus vegan and vegetarian consumers. While sustainability is important, consumers won’t compromise on taste, seeking options as close to the taste experience of animal products as possible.

The research pinpointed main drivers across key markets, as well as the attributes that consumers seek when purchasing plant-based burgers. In the UK and Brazil, consumers largely choose plant-based products based on health concerns, while in the US and Australia, environmental impact is a more pressing concern.

According to the research, consumers desire products with improved succulence and a ‘bite’ that feels as close to meat as possible. They also seek cooking cues such as charring which signal that a burger is perfectly cooked and safe to eat and want meat alternatives with improved nutrition.

Fiona Sweeney, Strategic Marketing Director at Kerry, said: “The need for a great taste experience is universal. For plant-based foods, which are often chosen by consumers as a more sustainable option, ensuring great taste can be a gateway to delivering innovative and sustainable nutrition solutions for consumers around the world. However, ensuring a great taste experience - involving a full sensorial experience of sight, sound and texture - is highly complex and in plant-based foods it is inherently more challenging because the bar is set high with meat and dairy as the benchmark.”

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