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Plant-based meat brands must address issue of ingredient lists

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Consumers eating meat alternatives as part of a “natural,” clean label lifestyle may soon take issue with the ingredients and processes used in these products.

Plant-based has grown from a niche to a mainstream option, thanks in part to the rise of flexitarian eating patterns. FMCG Gurus research conducted in 2020 indicated almost one-third (29%) of global consumers surveyed eat meat analogues.

The market may see continued growth as a result of COVID-19, as 28% of consumers stated they plan to increase the amount of plant-based food in their diets as a result of the virus. When asked why they turn to meat analogues, respondents overwhelmingly noted such products are better for the environment (80%) and healthier (80%).

In addition, 73% of consumers who eat meat analogues said it is important that these products are 100% natural. As these consumers seek ingredients they deem authentic, natural and nutritious, they are being more attentive to nutritional labeling than ever before. This could result in a potential backlash for the plant-based meat-alternative industry.

Consumers associate natural products with a variety of perceived benefits, such as being healthier, safer, better quality and more sustainable. Moreover, consumers also find streamlined ingredients appealing so they can have maximum transparency over their nutritional intake. For example, in 2020 research, 61% of consumers agreed the fewer ingredients in a product the better, and 62% said they were concerned about ingredients that “sound chemical.”

In recent years, plant-based products have boasted a health halo because of their association with a variety of benefits. These products even touted a coolness factor tied to ethical elitism. However, the reality is many plant-based products contain a variety of ingredients and long ingredient lists. In comparison, meat typically only has one.

This article was excerpted from a longer piece in a digital magazine. Click Power to the plants: Capitalizing on the plant-based momentum” to access it.

Will Cowling is marketing manager at FMCG Gurus. For more information, contact [email protected]

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