Study: Price, Taste Main Drivers Of Animal Protein Alternatives

When considering alternatives to animal protein, consumers are far more concerned about price and taste than they are about animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

That's one of the main takeaways from a March survey of 3,538 U.S. adults by behavioral-insights platform Veylinx.

Veylinx’s methodology required people to bid on specific food items and, if they won, purchase them.

“The idea that they have skin in the game is intended to make them more representative of their true demand rather than just filling out a survey,” says Veylinx global marketing lead Michael Bevan.

Based on survey results, the company’s Demand Score metric measured purchase intent for seven kinds of protein, the most being animal-based (picked by 53% of survey respondents), followed by plant-based with meat-like qualities (49%); conventional plant-based (48%); cultivated fish/meat (47%); mycoproteins (made from fungus, picked by 46%); microalgae (41%) and insects (30%).

In the plant-based-burger category, 35-year-old brand Amy’s Kitchen led the field with an overall Demand Score of 4.4—slightly edging out Sweet Earth (4.2), which was founded in 2011 and acquired by Nestlé in 2017.

Boca Burger, whose roots date to 1993, ranked #3 with a Demand Score of 3.7, followed by Beyond Meat (3.1) and Kellogg’s MorningStar Farms (2.6).

When respondents were asked about the main reasons they would not buy a specific product, just 19% cited taste with regard to Amy’s Kitchen. This compared to 26% for MorningStar and 25.3% for Beyond Meat.

The #1 reason cited for buying alternative proteins is that they’re a healthier alternative to animal protein (42%), followed by taste (35%) and animal welfare (29%).

What would motivate people to buy alternative proteins more often?

Improved taste was tops, picked by 35% of respondents, followed by lower cost (28%)—with “better for the planet” and a “stronger personal commitment to animal welfare” scoring 16% and 14%, respectively.

While taste is in the eye of the beholder, there’s been no shortage of price-cutting for plant-based meat substitutes—particularly among newer market entrants.

This continues to pose fundamental issues for both Impossible Foods—which is privately held but is rumored to have considered going public—and publicly held Beyond Meat.

Beyond Meat executives have consistently said that their goal is to lower the brand’s retail pricing so it’s more in line with real meat. But with its stock price down from a 52-week high of $160 to about $25, some people in the financial community are questioning that strategy.

“Perhaps the biggest existential threat we see for Beyond Meat right now is that the company’s 10% price reductions have failed to generate sufficient topline growth, even though just about everything else in a grocery store costs 10% more,” Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow wrote after Beyond Meat’s Q1 earnings call this week.

“In our view, this pokes a big hole in the company’s thesis that lowering prices to match conventional protein will bring an influx of new consumers to the category.”

As for taste, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown told analysts the company has “some terrific innovation coming later this year.”

Next story loading loading..