Market & Trends

FMCG Gurus on Plant-Based Industry: Insights, Challenges, and How to Overcome Them

Many global consumers are actively attempting to adopt dietary habits that avoid or moderate their consumption of animal produce.

During today’s post-pandemic world, a large proportion of consumers highly prioritize the value of their health by recognizing that a proactive, prevention-over-cure approach to their health is important. As a result, consumers have become more attentive in looking for ways to improve their diets and lifestyles so that they remain fit, healthy, and active to facilitate their long-term health.

The growth of the plant-based market

In previous years, plant-based products were deemed a niche and consumed solely by those who followed a strict diet plan. However, the last couple of years has seen the plant-based market move beyond this, with many consuming meat or dairy alternatives more often.

US hospitals offer more plant-based options
© Coolfood

For instance, FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights reveal 47% of global consumers say they have consumed dairy alternatives, and 34% of global consumers say they have consumed meat substitutes. This indicates that in recent years, consumers have become a lot more open to plant-based alternatives, which has resulted in this market having become more of a normality in consumers’ diets as opposed to a niche.

Links with health and sustainability

Consumers associate plant-based products with being both a healthier and more sustainable option. For instance, FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights highlight that 74% of consumers said they associated eating less meat with being healthier. In addition, of consumers who have changed their diet in the last two years to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, 43% of consumers reduced or eliminated their intake of dairy products and 40% reduced their intake of meat products.

This highlights that the main reasons consumers turn to plant-based products relate to health and sustainability concerns. For this reason, there is an increase in the number of consumers who pay attention to the health and sustainable benefits promoted in the products they consume. As a result, plant-based brands should position their products around health and sustainability, and draw attention towards how these areas are interlinked.

ChickP burger
© ChickP

The impact of the cost of living

Despite the health and sustainability benefits around plant-based products, the market is not immune from challenges and barriers. This has become evident through the cost of living crisis, which has caused plant-based sales to drop.

“…the market is not immune from challenges and barriers”

For example, FMCG Gurus consumer insights show that 44% of global consumers do not purchase plant-based meat products as they are too expensive. This highlights that during a time of economic uncertainty, in which plant-based products are often associated with a premium price, these products may not be feasible for many consumers during today’s era of rising costs.

Supermarket promotion signs
Image courtesy ProVeg International

Provide evidence to support claims

Further to the decrease in plant-based sales, health-washing and greenwashing could be playing a key role. For example, attention has risen around plant-based products being high in ingredients, such as sodium and long ingredient lists, undermining perceptions of healthiness. In addition, many consumers are skeptical of greenwashing. For instance, 47% are skeptical of environmental claims made by brands. This highlights that consumers are wary about the ethics and sustainability credentials of products, such as the impact on biodiversity and natural resources.

“…plant-based brands must provide transparency to consumers through storytelling and supply chains”

To overcome this barrier, plant-based brands must provide transparency to consumers through storytelling and supply chains. This will offer reassurance on how the product has been made and establish that the product is both healthy and sustainable. In addition, brands should accompany health and sustainability claims with clinically-proven clear and simple labeling and a streamlined ingredient list. This will combat consumer concerns around hidden ingredients in products through complex labeling and exaggerated claims made by brands in greenwashing scandals.

This article is based on FMCG Gurus: Why the Plant-Based Market Must Acknowledge its Mistakes and Meat and Plant-Based Reports and Surveys. For more information, contact: [email protected].

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