Whether flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan, or simply eating healthy, plant-based foods are making inroads with consumers. However, new research from Mintel reveals that taste is the top reason U.S. adults who eat plant-based proteins do so (52%), outranking concerns over diet (10%), animal protection (11%), the environment (13%), and even health (39%).
While taste tops the list of reasons to eat plant-based proteins, perceived health benefits are on consumers’ minds as nearly half (46%) of Americans agree that plant-based proteins are better for you than animal-based options, and 76% say plant-based foods are healthy. Whether a desire to avoid processed foods (39%), manage weight (31%), or promote muscle growth (16%), many plant-based protein consumers are motivated by maintaining or improving their health and well-being.
When it comes to making decisions in the grocery aisle, again, taste is the driving factor for 65% of those who eat plant-based proteins, followed by health-centric attributes. These consumers are more likely to seek plant-based protein products with no artificial ingredients (41%), that are high in protein (35%), and fiber (28%), and those that are non-GMO (28%).
“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, said Billy Roberts, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel. “While overall consumption of plant-based proteins remains low, these products benefit from a generally healthy reputation both for consumers’ diets and for the environment, and growing consumer interest in better-for-you lifestyles will continue to drive interest in the category.”