A new study commissioned by not-for-profit organisations No Meat May and Vegan Australia has found that the vast majority of consumers in the country have never been confused by alt-meat labelling.
96% of those surveyed said they had never mistakenly bought a plant-based meat alternative, and of the remaining 4%, over two-thirds (67%) admitted that the mistake happened because they were in a hurry and did not properly read the label.
On the other hand, the opposite type of confusion is far more common, with 41% of respondents having bought a product they thought was plant-based only to discover it contained animal ingredients.
64% of participants said terms like “meatless” and “meat-free” helped them determine that a product didn’t contain meat, while 57% found more specific terms such as ‘beef-free, ‘plant-based chicken’, and ‘bacon-style’ helpful. Finally, 22% of respondents said they were looking to replace some of the animal products they eat with plant-based alternatives.
Alt-meat labelling backlash
Last year, the Australian Red Meat Advisory Council funded research that claimed 60% of people found alt-meat packaging misleading, while 75% believed it should not be legal for plant-based products to be described as meat. This contradicted a previous study which found that 91% of Australians had never mistakenly bought a plant-based product instead of meat.
The Council began lobbying the Senate to ban alt-meat companies from using words like ‘chicken’ and ‘beef’, leading to an inquiry. But alt-meat brands have received backing from both the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission and Food Standards in Australia, which said they could find no evidence of consumers being misled.
“This UTS research tells us what we already suspected; that this Senate inquiry drastically underestimates the intelligence of the average Australian, who is perfectly capable of discerning the difference between a meat product and its plant-based alternative despite the use of similar wording or imagery,” said Ryan Alexander, co-founder of No Meat May.