Flexitarian Eaters Drive Growth in Plant-based Products
Food companies eager to capitalize on the demand for plant-based foods are finding market opportunities with consumers who eat meat but want to increase their frequency of choosing plant-based foods. Many food companies are seeing the market potential with so-called “flexitarian” eaters, who now account for 42% of the global market, according to insights from Euromonitor International. Unlike the full commitment to either vegan eating (no animal products) or vegetarianism (often interpreted as allowing dairy and eggs), flexitarians incorporate plant-based options into their diets without giving up animal-based foods completely.
The ongoing interest in healthy eating and demands from younger consumers are driving the trend in flexitarian eating. Per Mintel data, 45% of U.S. consumers strongly or somewhat agree that plant protein is healthier than other protein options. Within the reported 65% of U.S. consumers open to eating more plant-based foods, interest is highest among the youngest generations, according to the United Soybean Board.
New products target flexitarians
Flexitarians tend to be more adventurous eaters who are interested in researching and trying new recipes and products. According to FoodThink, two-thirds of U.S. consumers who identify as flexitarians consider themselves foodies and 54% of flexitarians greatly enjoy trying different types of foods (compared to 43% of vegetarians and 34% of animal protein consumers). Food companies should consider innovative flavor profiles in product development for flexitarians.
Consumer food brands are responding to the flexitarian trend with new product innovations. For example, Applegate recently debuted its Well Carved line of burgers and meatballs made by pairing organic meat with vegetables and legumes. Tyson, the top US poultry producer, promotes its Raised and Rooted brand of plant-based products as healthy and flavorful choices. The Mushroom Council is also looking to reach flexitarians with The Blended Burger Project, which encourages consumers to blend finely chopped fresh mushrooms into their ground meat mixtures for tacos, burgers and sauces.
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