The following are some of the key consumer insights into what’s driving the future of food.
Drop in Meat Consumption:
One-third of Americans are flexitarian (choosing to leave meat off their plates more frequently), and annual per capita red meat consumption in the U.S. has dropped. These trends are being driven by people broadly understanding how diet affects their health, concerns around the use of hormones and antibiotics in producing meat, the treatment of animals in factory farms and how food choices have a very real impact on the planet. In addition to a number of recent research studies highlighting the health and environmental impacts of meat, experts from the World Health Organization, American Institute of Cancer Research, the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, amongst others have recommended meat reduction as the solution to the health and environmental crisis facing the nation.
Drop in Dairy Consumption:
Over one-third of consumers prefer dairy-free milks and U.S. milk consumption has declined. Fueled by changing consumer perception of dairy’s nutritional value for bone development, concerns around hormones and antibiotics, increase in milk allergies, rising milk prices, and the popularity of dairy-free milks has grown exponentially.
The Power of Millennials:
Millennials are currently one of the most powerful group of consumers in the U.S. that make up 25 percent of the population and have over a trillion dollars in buying power. One in 10 millennials is vegetarian or vegan and they are at the forefront of driving the American consumer marketplace by demanding more plant-based options. Millennials are increasingly interested in vegan cuisine, and more than 60 percent consume meat alternatives.
American consumers (a whopping 87 percent of them) want to buy food from brands that have a positive social and environmental impact, and most are willing to pay more for such products. A recent study found that 77 percent of consumers factor sustainability when shopping for food. Consumers are starting to value transparency, not only regarding food ingredients but also about the supply chain and are looking for brands that have an authentic mission and genuinely care about the impact of their products. From a natural resource consumption standpoint, plant-based foods are inherently better for the planet, and most brands in the space are not afraid to wear their values on their sleeves, which makes them even more attractive to consumers.