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EASY DOES IT: How to market meat-free to meat-eaters

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When asked what would make them engage more with meat-free meals, just over a third say they’d be encouraged by a packet of all ingredients required to make a meal, for one price, together with a recipe.

TESSA NOWOSENETZ: While veganism and vegetarianism appear to be increasing, only 1% of the population of developed countries claim to be vegan and only 5% claim to be vegetarian. Another trend is plant-based food. You might assume that this correlates with the increase in veganism and vegetarianism but, with such small numbers, neither group actually has the scale to command significant buying power. Is it worth it for retailers to cater to the needs of this small segment of the population? And if so, how?..

Walk the aisles of most food retailers and there’s no major emphasis on food products that enable vegan or vegetarian lifestyles. However, there are shelves in some large retailers that are geared towards plant-based eating, and this trend has certainly increased over the past 12 months, with Woolworths and Checkers showcasing meat-free alternatives on shelves and in marketing.

Large retailers and food producers may point to the diminutive consumer base to justify the comparatively small shelf or section of meat-free/meat-alternative products. Fair enough. But what if vegans and vegetarians aren’t the only ones in the market for meat-free meals? What if there’s a bigger cohort waiting hungrily in the wings?…

With consumers wanting to eat less meat and many dabbling in the category of ‘meat-free’, there is opportunity to capture the hearts, minds and taste buds of these meat-eating consumers… What is the drive for meat-eaters to eat less meat? While you might think that eating less meat is down to ethical or environmental concerns, only 9% of consumers say that eating less meat is about being more ethical. Further, only 11% say it’s about saving the environment.

What does appear to be the strongest driver is the link between eating less meat and being healthier – according to 47% of the approximately 3,000 respondents in our survey. Looking at an alternate data source, turning to our YouGov Profiles data, there is a similar number, with 44% saying that a meatless diet is a healthier option…

With a growing range of plant-based and meat-alternatives on the market and a growing interest among meat-eaters to engage in this category, what is preventing meat-lovers from reaching for more mushroom burgers? Is it a perceived taste? Not really; only 8% say that they dislike the taste of meat-free or plant-based alternatives. The challenge is actually more about perceived cost and an overall lack of knowledge around how to engage with the category.

Our research shows that 39% of consumers find meat-free/plant-based meat alternatives and ingredients to be expensive. Just under half of consumers feel that ‘informational’ or ‘creative’ challenges are their top obstacle to cooking more plant-based cuisine…

Given that cost and knowledge are key barriers to engaging more in the category, retailers could start to consider how they direct consumers in the retail space. In order to unlock the latent opportunities, consumers must be enabled to find greater value in meat-free offerings and require education on how to navigate these.

With this in mind, we asked consumers what would make them engage more. Just over a third feel they’d be encouraged by a pack/collection of all ingredients required to make a meat-free meal, for one price, together with a recipe. This talks about creating a sense of value and educating the consumer at same time, taking the hassle out of meat-free. SOURCE…

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