November 16, 2022
4 Food Industry Consumer Trends to Watch
Grocery shopping, like many household duties on the to-do list, is something that there never seems to be time for. Also like many other aspects of modern life, consumers are looking for ever-increasing personalization and looking for ways to make the chore of grocery shopping more exciting by finding food that inspires them and gets their family to the dinner table. Here are 4 food industry trends that illustrate how consumers shop for and what motivates their decisions.
While online grocery shopping has already well-established before the pandemic, lockdown prompted many more people to turn to e-commerce for their weekly grocery shopping. A recent Food Industry Association (FMI) report found that 64 percent of consumers surveyed stated that they shopped for groceries online at least occasionally, even after the height of the pandemic. But with higher prices both in the stores and at the gasoline pumps, shoppers are splitting how they spend their money. The same report also found consumers are increasingly turning to hybrid shopping for groceries, as inflation and the price of gas continues to be a drain on budgets. In a search for both quality and value, consumers are spreading their spending across stores, with shopping clubs offering more specific shopping experiences and traditional grocery stores attracting consumers with their fresh categories, like produce and prepared foods.
Even in the face of rising food prices, consumers are showing a taste for high-quality food products, and are willing to pay more for them. The FMI report shows that among the consumers who stated that they were paying more for groceries this year, 19 percent of them indicated that it was because they were buying higher-quality products. Higher-income earners and parents were the top consumers purchasing the premium products, with items like baby food, plant-based products, meal kits, and fresh, prepared foods topping the list of products that consumers are willing to pay more for.
‘Food Rule’ Eating
Consumers have moved away from classic diets meant for weight loss and have embraced a more personalized way of eating based on food rules. These dietary guidelines influence how and where consumers shop. The keto diet, the latest version of a low-carb diet, is currently followed by 12.9 million Americans and has launched its own sizable category of products in the food industry. In addition, plant-based eating has grown in popularity, as well, with many people embracing it as an entire lifestyle, beyond just food. Clean eating has also been influential in how consumers shop.
With busy professionals and harried parents needing to get something on the table fast every evening, prepared food is becoming increasingly popular. In 2019, grocery store deli departments sold nearly $15B in prepared foods. Grocery stores often offer items that are marketed as compliments to a meal, but consumers who don’t have time to cook are on the hunt for entrees, and it has become the fastest-growing segment in the fresh deli-prepared food category. The reopening of hot bars and salad bars after the height of the pandemic offered opportunities for grocery stores to rethink their prepared food selections and offer time-starved consumers creative, high-quality solutions for mealtime.
Stay up-to-date on the food industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from general consumers and heads of household who make purchasing decisions on food and grocery purchases. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.
November 7, 2022
With summer 2022 in the rearview mirror, many travelers are already reminiscing about their summer vacations. What they might not look back on with the same degree of fondness is the process of actually getting to their destinations. By almost every measure, traveling this past summer was a miserable and frustrating exercise. According to numbers released in August by the Department of Transportation, more than 5,800 complaints were filed by the U.S. traveling audience this past June. That is an increase of nearly 270 percent over June 2019.
Not surprisingly, cancellations, delays, and other scheduling issues topped the list of traveling audience complaints. The holiday weekend that included Father’s Day and Juneteenth was especially trying for travelers, with over 3,000 flights canceled and thousands more delayed. Adding insult to injury, lost and mishandled baggage and difficulty receiving refunds often went hand in hand with other passenger problems this past summer.
What is to blame for such a steep decline in the traveler experience and quality of service? COVID-19 continued to affect the daily operations of the entire airline industry. The near-total halt of airplane travel during the height of the pandemic led to layoffs and other drastic cuts in the airline industry labor force, and the airlines have struggled to recover. The rapid increase in travel that followed the end of lockdown left airlines unprepared for the numbers of the traveling audience who were tired of being stuck at home. Staffing shortages all around led to the cancellation of flights, delays, and lost luggage that marred the beginnings of many summer vacations. Pilots and flight attendants pushed back on their overburdened workloads by striking different points throughout the summer, with votes for future work stoppages still underway.
Another layer of the traveling audience’s litany of complaints is the increased number of incidents of disabled passengers being left on planes, having their wheelchairs damaged while disembarking, or even being injured while traveling. The operational problems that continue to plague airlines only add to the anxiety and humiliation that many in the disabled travel audience face when they enter an airport, as some of the overworked airline staff are not properly trained to tend to the needs of disabled passengers.
Fortunately, there is a path for recourse for those travelers who have had their vacation plans scuttled by a canceled or delayed flight. In what has become a tried-and-true way to get a company’s attention with a complaint, many passengers turned to social media to express their dissatisfaction with airlines. The bandwagon of shared negative experiences is one that disgruntled customers in the traveling audience are all too eager to jump on. The increased number of travel audience complaints mentioned earlier noted by the Department of Transportation led them to step in and confront the airline industry about their operations and help consumers get refunds as a result of canceled or delayed flights.
Read more about the travel industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from consumers in the travel audience. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.
November 7, 2022
As one of the most lucrative sectors in the business landscape, the U.S. beauty industry is estimated to be worth $49 billion in 2022. With so much money in play and a constant overabundance of products on shelves, Black women have a historically difficult experience finding products to suit their needs. This isn’t due to a lack of spending power, however. According to a recent study by McKinsey, the Black female audience spent $6.6 billion on beauty products in 2021, making up about 11 percent of the entire U.S. beauty market. For scale, the total Black audience representation in the United States is 15 percent. If there is an industry that is wide open for opportunities to capture the Black female audience, it is the beauty space.
On average, Black women report a higher rate of dissatisfaction with makeup, skincare, and hair care products than the non-Black audience. Retail deserts in predominantly minority audience neighborhoods also mean that Black women have to travel further to find the products that have earned their loyalty. These disparities have led Black entrepreneurs to take matters into their own hands and launch their own beauty brands, specifically crafted for the Black female audience. Beauty trailblazer Eunice Johnson launched Fashion Fair cosmetics in 1973, offering Black women options in makeup that they had never had before. The cosmetics, and the associated advertisements in Ebony and Jet magazines, helped celebrate the beauty of the Black female audience in a way that had not been done before. The lack of true representation in advertising as a whole continues to be a problem across all industries.
Another aspect that has continued to keep the scope of beauty products for the Black female audience so limited is the lack of top executives at major beauty companies. The previously mentioned report from McKinsey found that only 2.5 percent of employees at top beauty companies are Black. The same study took a quick snapshot of the C-suite at Revlon USA and found that only 5 percent of the employees at the director level and above are Black. This has led more Black entrepreneurs to launch their own brands, often succeeding in the face of more challenging headwinds than their white counterparts when it comes to raising capital for their companies. Recently, the market has exploded with product lines from celebrities, like Iman and Rihanna. Rihanna’s line, Fenty Beauty, launched in 2017, boasts 40 different shades of foundation, a benchmark that was quickly adopted by Dior and Revlon, in order to try and grab their own share of the Black female audience who had been there the entire time, just waiting for their turn to be seen.
The social upheaval of the summer of 2020 found many companies under the spotlight for their lack of representation in their top roles, and retailers were held to account for the dearth of Black-owned products on their shelves. 15% Pledge, founded by fashion designer Aurora James, aims to get retailers to dedicate 15 percent of their shelf space to Black audience-owned brands. Companies like Target and beauty giant Sephora were among the first to commit to supporting Black-owned product lines.
Read more about the beauty industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from consumers in the beauty space. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.
November 4, 2022
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 91.5 percent of U.S. households own at least one car, meaning that higher gas prices have affected everyone, across all income levels and socio-economic classifications. This past March, the price of gas reached its highest level in American history, sending shock waves through the economy. With California passing a law prohibiting the sales of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035, and gas prices still higher than usual, there has been a renewed push toward electric cars. America lags behind other countries when it comes to EV adoption, but there are three things the U.S. can increase its use of EVs and do its part to slow the pace of climate change.
The number of electric cars on the road in the U.S. grew from 16K to 2 million in 10 years, pointing to a slow and steady trend toward more environmentally sound vehicles but the numbers are not ticking up fast enough to meet the challenge. The car owner information gap around electric vehicles is partly to blame for keeping the American car-buying audience on the sidelines when it comes to whether or not to buy an electric vehicle. One concern that those who might be considering purchasing an EV have is whether it would be more expensive than a gasoline-only car. A recent survey found that 53 percent of American car owners would not be willing to pay even $500 more for an electric vehicle. The truth is that as with any car, the true cost of ownership comes from everything associated with maintaining the vehicle and fuel costs, not the actual purchase price. A targeted campaign by the federal and state governments to educate the public about electric cars could highlight the fact that EVs cost about 40 percent less to maintain than traditional, gas-powered vehicles.
Establish a Nationwide Network of Charging Stations
One of the challenges that immediately faces the U.S. push for EV adoption is the details surrounding how and where car owners can charge their vehicles. 61 percent of American car owners surveyed in a recent Consumer Reports study stated that the major obstacle keeping them from making the leap to EVs is the logistics around charging them. Many electric vehicle owners are able to charge their cars at home, but there are currently more than 45,000 charging stations around the country, with more than 500K coming across the nation, thanks to a new set of standards recently announced by the Biden administration. More than enough for a strong head start and to help alleviate the worries of the traditional car owners who still need to be convinced to switch to an electric car.
Cash Incentives for Purchasing an EV
As mentioned earlier, cost remains a primary concern for prospective EV buyers. The Consumer Reports survey found that among the respondents who stated that they were not planning to buy an electric vehicle, 52 percent of them listed costs as the reason that was most front of mind. Offering car owners cash towards a new EV could be highly motivating. Other countries, especially those in Europe, have had success with offering subsidies for both the purchase of a new electric vehicle and for the installation of at-home charging stations. In fact, European countries represent seven out of the ten countries in the world with the highest percentage of EVs on the road. In the U.S., making electric vehicles more accessible to traditional car owners can be done by expanding the federal tax credit, currently at $7,500, through the Inflation Reduction Act.
Read more about the automotive industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from automobile owners. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.
August 22, 2022
The global food service industry is endlessly dynamic and lucrative, expecting to reach $898B by the end of 2022, When optimized, the data collected in this industry can influence everything we experience about what we eat– from how long pizza takes to arrive at our door on movie night to the array of toppings we have to choose from to put on it. The companies that leverage the processed and analyzed data are the ones who will come out on top and consistently give their customers what they want when they want it.
The restaurant business is one that is famously known to operate on razor-thin margins, a market condition that was true even before the pandemic, and it continues to slow recovery. In order to jumpstart their own recovery, restaurant owners can tap into the power of data to gather a treasure trove of information about their customers and their business operations. With that valuable information in hand, restaurants can determine which items are their best-sellers, and which ones might need a rethink. Opportunities to reduce costs, optimize operations, and refine guest experiences also come into sharper focus when this new data is implemented. Staying on top of ever-changing food trends is also an area where real-time data analysis can pay dividends.
For large fast food chains, efficiency is paramount for a streamlined process that needs to be duplicated many times over. McDonald’s uses data to manage their supply chain as well as to stay on top of what is happening in each of its 34,000 individual locations. Providing diners with a unique and personal experience is possible because of insights gained from their customer data. For example, to personalize the drive-thru process, McDonald’s began changing their digital menu board to reflect the time of the day, the weather, and which items are popular at that particular location. Customers are even able to learn how long they could expect to be waiting as they drive up to place their orders.
Whether someone is running a small corner pizza shop or is an executive at a multinational burger chain, data has earned its place as an important tool for the food service industry. In a time when attention spans are short, and food trends change in the time it takes to scroll, restaurants need to keep up with the preferences of their customers and manage operations efficiently.
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December 2, 2020
Plant-based dairy alternatives have surged in popularity, with a growth rate of 17.2% going into October of 2020. With soy, hemp, almond, oat, coconut, cashew, and rice milk among the most in-demand alternatives, consumers are ditching dairy for healthier, more sustainable food and beverage alternatives. From coffee creamers, yogurt, cheeses, ice cream, and more, adopting a dairy-free lifestyle has never been easier. This growth is set to continue over the next decade as Global Market Insights predicts the plant milk market to achieve over an 11% CAGR from 2020 to 2026, bringing the market value to USD 21 billion. So what exactly spawned the popularity of plant-based milk, and what does the future hold for this market?
The growing demand for milk alternatives correlates with a rise in veganism. Plant-based diets have increased by 300% in the last 15 years, as more than 9.6 million Americans identify as vegan in 2019, according to a study by Ipsos. Veganism’s popularity may spawn from concerns over the environment, animal welfare, health benefits, and even taste. The appeal of plant-based foods is not limited to vegans. More than 40% of North American consumers are incorporating more vegan ingredients into their diets, as stated by Health Careers.
2. Health Benefits
Plant-based products have a myriad of health benefits, appealing to vegans and non-vegans alike. In an IFIC Food and Health Survey, 43% of surveyed consumers claim that a product with a description of plant-based would likely be the healthiest compared to other options. With milk alternatives having fewer calories and less fat than cow milk, many consumers have made the switch to aid weight loss. With no inflammatory ingredients, lactose, or carcinogenic hormones, plant-based milk products are easier to digest with minimal health effects. In terms of nutrients, dairy alternatives are rich with protein, fatty acids, and minerals to support a healthy body. With rising levels of lactose intolerance and milk allergies, plant-based alternative products allow consumers to enjoy a wider variety of foods without fear of a reaction. With several options to choose from, there is a non-dairy alternative to satisfy every taste and nutritional preference.
3. Environment/Animal Welfare
Concerns over the environmental impact of the dairy industry and animal welfare have also reduced milk consumption. Though all milk alternatives have different effects on the environment, non-dairy milk significantly reduces emissions, land use, and water use. The resources needed to sustain dairy farms such as animal feed and pastures use substantial amounts of energy and are harmful to the environment. According to the BBC, 58% of greenhouse gas emissions come from animal products. Cows, in general, produce large amounts of methane, further emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Plant-based milk requires fewer resources to make, providing consumers with a greener alternative.
Increased ethical concerns amongst consumers regarding the inhumane treatment of dairy cows has also decreased milk consumption. With poor animal living conditions on factory farms, including limited grazing, premature slaughter, and increased physical issues of cows, many consumers have turned to plant-based options in support of animal welfare. In a survey conducted by Statista, 41% of consumers believe that plant-based milk is more humanely produced than traditional dairy.
Drawbacks of Alternatives
Despite its rapid growth, plant-based milk alternatives face many challenges. For one, non-dairy products tend to cost more than traditional dairy. According to the New York Post, almond and soy milk cost almost twice as much as cow’s milk, with oat milk costing 2.5 times as much. Price volatility remains one of the most prevalent issues in the plant-based alternatives market. The lack of available raw materials and high turnover tax rates result in higher production costs compared to cow’s milk, driving up prices.
Another issue in the plant-based milk alternative market stems from its lack of nutrients. With the varying nutritional profiles of plant-based milk, not all products have fewer calories or comparable vitamins, minerals, and protein to cow’s milk. Added flavoring and sweeteners to plant-based dairy products may also decrease its nutritional value. In addition to consumer concerns with nutritional value, plant-based milk alternatives risk cross-contamination when produced or served alongside non-vegan products.
What the Future Holds
Increasing awareness and product innovation will continue to drive the non-dairy craze in the food and beverage industry. Plant-based milk is on track to dominate the market. In 2019, plant milk made up 14% of the entire milk category, growing at a rate of 5%, compared to .1% for cow’s milk, according to the Plant-Based Foods Association. As more businesses harness the popularity of plant milk in their products, the market will continue to expand, providing consumers with alternatives to the foods and beverages they love.
November 16, 2020
In the past few years, the demand for clean label products has grown exponentially as health-conscious consumers are seeking out more natural and simple ingredients. According to Lascom, clean label products make up 33% of the food and beverage market and continue to expand as more clean label options enter the market space. A trend report by Allied Market Research predicts the clean label market to reach $64.1 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 6.8%. So what exactly constitutes a clean label product and what factors are driving this growth?
What is a Clean Label?
Defining a clean label product remains difficult without a singular definition. With this, consumers may define a clean label product as a good containing simple, natural, and easily identifiable ingredients. Many clean label products offer substitutes for commonly used artificial and synthetically produced products. For example, clean label products may substitute synthetic dyes for plant extracts or juice concentrates. Artificial flavor enhancers are also commonly switched out for yeast extract, and artificial preservatives are often left out altogether.
Key Drivers of Growth
The growing demand for clean label products spawns from increased consumer health awareness, a rise in disposable income, an improvement in living standards, and the promotion of healthy living trends, as stated by Allied Research. When looking at the appeal of clean labels across generations, Millenials and Baby Boomers are driving the growth of clean label products. A study conducted by C+R Research found that Millennials and Baby Boomers are most vigilant when it comes to product labels. On the other hand, Gen Xers show the least amount of concern with product ingredients. Of those who participated in this study, 69% said that reading labels impacts their shopping habits.
Disadvantages of Clean Label Products
Despite the health benefits of clean labels, the issues facing these products may deter companies from adjusting their ingredients, and consumers from purchasing such items. For one, these products often have a shorter shelf life due to a lack of preservatives and artificial substances. Though natural ingredients provide more health benefits, these products may require non-traditional storage methods such as refrigerating or freezing and are easily perishable. With this, storage costs may increase for manufacturers while also preventing consumers from purchasing items that will last for days instead of months.
In addition to the shorter shelf life of clean label products, some companies may struggle to reformulate items to maintain the same consistency and flavors. For food and beauty products, these elements may be deciding factors for consumers and can help or hurt sales depending on the changes made to the existing product. Due to the lack of a legal definition for ‘clean label,’ many of these products are open to interpretation by consumers, leading to litigation risks from misleading claims. Many users mistake clean label products for being healthier when, in fact, this is not always the case.
Finally, clean label products may cost more than traditional items, appealing more to those with disposable incomes. This price hike results from a higher cost of ingredients and production. Despite this, 75% of consumers will pay extra for clean label ingredients, according to Ingredient Communications. With this, clean label products are here to stay, promoting ingredient transparency and simplicity.
September 14, 2020
From stouts to sours, the popularity of craft beer has skyrocketed across the U.S. as a growing number of people try their hand at brewing. According to CraftBeer.com, American craft breweries are defined as brewers who produce 6 million barrels or less annually with less than 25% of the brewery owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member. As of 2020, the North American Craft Beer Market is worth $45.03 billion and is predicted to reach $121.69 billion by the end of 2025, as stated by Market Data Forecast.
With over 8,000 craft breweries across North America, many craft beer companies have adopted a direct-to-consumer sales model to stay competitive in the industry and reach customers wherever they may be. With this, craft beer subscription services have drastically increased, allowing beer enthusiasts to try beverages from all over the country for a monthly or annual fee. From small to large craft breweries, these services offer a wide variety of beers for every taste and price range.
2. Better For You Beers
The demand for low-calorie, healthier alcoholic beverages continues to rise as consumers become more mindful of the products they consume. From light beers to hard seltzers, craft breweries are adapting to new consumer preferences with a myriad of new products targeted at health-conscious consumers.
In addition to low-calorie craft beer options, many breweries are releasing lines of alcoholic seltzers for those seeking a lighter beverage option. These beverage lines have a variety of tropical flavors and blends, letting consumers choose from traditional hard seltzers, wine seltzers, cider seltzers, and more. Amidst the pandemic, this category of alcoholic beverages has shown resilience, exceeding 2019 sales every week from March to June, as reported by Nielsen.
For those who love the taste of beer but not the hangover, non-alcoholic brews may be the best option. Many craft breweries are hopping on the trend of non-alcoholic beers, as consumers look for healthier alternatives. Global Market Insights predicts the global non-alcoholic beer market to reach $25 billion by the year 2024, witnessing over 7.4% CAGR in the next 4 years. With a variety of styles and premium ingredients, non-alcoholic craft beers provide consumers with the same refreshing taste they love, without the side effects.
Hurdles of Craft Brewers
As the craft beer market becomes more saturated, breweries must find ways to differentiate themselves to stay competitive. Whether it’s using unique ingredients, offering new seasonal beverages, creating a unique taproom experience, or even drawing customer’s in with creative branding, breweries must earn their relevance to survive the crowded market.
2. The Implications of COVID-19
The pandemic has posed many issues for the craft beer industry. From the forced closure of taprooms to a national shortage of aluminum cans, breweries all over the nation are struggling to stay afloat. As concert halls, restaurants, stadiums, and bars close amidst social distancing guidelines, brewers must look for new ways to sell to consumers. Many craft breweries have adopted new methods of distribution, offering curbside pickup, beer delivery, and even reaching out to retailers to carry their products. With this, the craft breweries attempt to stay agile, quickly adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the beer industry.
August 28, 2020
Over the past decade, the health and wellness industry has been on the rise as consumers become more conscious of their lifestyles. From foods, technology, and even clothing, adopting a healthier way of life goes beyond one’s fitness and diet, helping shoppers make better choices in all aspects of their lives. According to Technavio, the health and wellness market will grow at a CAGR of over 6% from 2020-2024 with healthy eating habits being a driving factor for market growth.
Health and Wellness Foods
Consumers are becoming increasingly mindful regarding the nutritional value of their products. This comes as more food and beverage companies market nutrient-dense snacks to health-conscious consumers. In a study conducted by the International Food Information Council and American Heart Association, 43% of consumers are always in search of healthy options when shopping for food, while 52% sometimes search out healthy foods when shopping. While the majority of consumers attempt to purchase healthy items, food labels have become an important factor in consumer decision making with 59% of consumers always reading nutrition facts before purchasing a product. Due to the increasing demand for healthy foods and beverages, the health and wellness food industry will be worth $811.82 billion by the year 2021, according to Statista.
Health and Wellness Technology
Today, it has never been easier to keep track of your health, as new apps and devices provide users with insightful data anytime, anywhere. App Samurai states that there are over 97,000 health apps available to download with 70% dealing with wellness and sport and 30% providing patients and health professionals with health services such as monitoring, image diagnosis, and medication control. With this, the market for health and wellness apps is projected to reach USD 57.57 billion by 2026, as forecasted by Fortune Business Insights.
In addition to health apps, wearable health and wellness technology has become a part of the mainstream, as the market for smartwatches and fitness trackers has exploded over the past decade. According to IDTechEx, the wearable technology market has doubled since 2014, with a value of $50 billion as of 2019. With increased capabilities such as calorie, heart rate, and step tracking, smartphone syncing, and sleep tracking, wearable fitness technology helps consumers stay on top of their health 24/7.
Health and Wellness Apparel
As Americans adopt healthier lifestyles, health, and wellness apparel sales have increased drastically. According to Allied Market Research, the sports apparel market size will reach $248.1 billion by 2026, with a CAGR of 5.1%. With increasing health awareness, adoption of physical activities, and the rise of women in sports and fitness, the global sports apparel market has become a lucrative sector of the overall health and wellness industry. With its popularity, the market has become extremely saturated, with businesses trying to stay competitive with breakthrough designs and fabrics for optimal athletic performance.
In addition to fitness apparel, the emergence of well fashion has taken the industry by storm. These garments of clothing can improve the wearer’s wellbeing through self-regulating materials that offer protection from harmful environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures and harmful UV rays. Well fashion may also have the potential to improve sleep patterns, skin conditions, and even kill bacteria. These clothes may be the future of health and wellness apparel, helping consumers become more mindful about the clothes they wear.
In conclusion, the health and wellness industry shows no signs of slowing down, as an increasing number of consumers continue to look for ways to improve their wellbeing. With the market becoming heavily saturated, sectors of the industry must find new ways to cater to health-conscious individuals whether it be through new foods, groundbreaking tech, or trendsetting apparel.
August 3, 2020
With 70% of the global population reducing their meat intake, according to Acumen Research, many companies have begun shifting their focus towards plant-based meat products to accommodate a broader range of lifestyle choices. The growing demand for meat alternatives may derive from consumers’ concerns with animal welfare, the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, and health benefits associated with a plant-based diet. With many large meat companies, such as Tyson and Cargill, introducing their own lines of plant-based products, while investing in meat alternative brands, the so-called meatless revolution shows no signs of slowing down.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Meat Consumption
Over the past few months, the severe impact of Coronavirus on the meat industry has further decreased consumers’ meat intake, as price hikes and factory sanitation concerns have led more shoppers to consider meat alternatives. According to a study conducted by PBFA on Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery retailer, plant-based meat sales have increased by a staggering 75% between March and June of 2020. With the pandemic putting health at the forefront of consumer decision making, increased demand for clean labels and growing concerns over animal-borne illnesses compel shoppers to switch from animal-based to plant-based foods. In addition to health concerns, the significant increase in meat prices amidst shortages and the economic impacts of Coronavirus on consumers has prompted shoppers to seek alternatives. As sectors of the food industry take steps towards recovery, plant-based meat sales show no sign of slowing down, as MarketsandMarkets estimates U.S. plant-based meat sales will reach $4.2 billion by 2021, growing 17% in just over one year.
Plant-Based Fast Food
In addition to meat alternatives found in grocery stores, many plant-based meat companies are teaming up with large fast food chains to offer menu options for vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. With large chains such as Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and White Castle debuting meatless versions of classic menu items, plant-based foods have made their way into the mainstream to keep up with growing demand. According to Axios, plant-based meats have a 3.5% market in U.S. fast food chains that will continue to grow as more restaurants introduce meat alternatives. Though many consumers see plant-based fast food items as healthier options, the nutritional value of these menu items does not change, as both animal and plant-based meat are processed foods. Despite this misconception, meatless fast food continues to expand, making it easier than ever for consumers to reduce their meat consumption.
Challenges with Plant-Based Meat
Though the popularity of plant-based meats has drastically increased over the past few years, there are a number of hurdles to overcome in order to maintain growth. For one, the high price of plant-based foods may deter consumers from purchasing alternatives over animal-based products. According to Nielsen, plant-based meats cost almost 50% more per gram than beef, as consumers pay an average of $12/lb. for alternative products. This high cost results from a less established supply chain of ingredients compared to animal-based products and may decrease over time as more businesses enter the market. Another issue may derive from keeping up with demand. Due to the rapid growth of this industry, companies are forced to scale quickly to meet consumer needs, putting pressure on companies both large and small. Despite these challenges, the plant-based meat industry continues to prosper, providing consumers with a safer and healthier alternative to meat.