Meat alternatives are becoming a more popular choice for American consumers, especially among non-vegetarians, according to a newly released study by Mintel.
The number of meat alternatives available on the market has been increasing over the last few years with the rise in vegetarian and vegan eaters, and sales of meat alternatives are growing as well. In 2012, meat alternative sales in conventional channels, natural supermarkets and specialty supermarkets reached $553 million.
Surprisingly though, of the one-third of Americans purchasing meat alternatives, many are not vegetarians. Only 7% of consumers using meat alternatives surveyed by Mintel identified themselves as vegetarians.
Health and food safety concerns in relation to GMOs appear to be the driving decision-makers for meat alternative buyers. According to Mintel Food and Drink Analyst, Beth Bloom, “Health perception plays a large role in use of meat alternatives. One third of consumers indicate using products in the category because they are healthy, higher than any other reason measured in the report (including the reduction of meat consumption).”
Over 51% of meat alternative consumers surveyed even believe meat alternatives are healthier than real meat. 31% of people surveyed indicate that they are attempting to reduce their personal meat consumption by purchasing alternatives while another 31% express their enjoyment of eating meat alternatives.
Findings from Mintel’s study, published in part on a press release from The Sacramento Bee, suggest that there is a shift happening from a necessity-based meat alternative market to a desire-based one.
Bloom stated, “The bottom line is that vegetarians and vegans aren’t the only people eating ‘fake’ meat, meat eaters are also exploring this new found protein superpower.”
This offers a new opportunity for producers of meat alternatives as their products may soon be able to move away from just being considered “substitutes.” In time, meat alternatives may become stand-along products that can be highly competitive with current meat offerings in markets across the country, paving the way for America to enter a new era of protein procurement and consumption.
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