© Scott Warman
It is common knowledge that diets such as veganism are here to stay, but as concerns about sustainability mount, more consumers are leaning towards flexitarian lifestyles. This is what DSM focuses on in its recent consumer report, entitled ‘Plant Power’, which has thrown up a handful of interesting findings about the changing nature of flexitarian diets.
For example, some consumers are even reducing meat and dairy intake unintentionally. DSM cites 44% of survey respondents make the subconscious decision to reduce, or completely remove, intake of meat in their diets. 58% of consumers said they made similar subconscious decisions to reduce dairy.
The reason for this is not necessarily down to active choices based on health benefits or sustainability claims, but simply because of the abundance of choice that analogues bring to supermarket shelves, coupled with a consumer desire to branch out beyond their typical purchases.
This is unsurprising: with the amount of meat- and dairy-free products rising weekly, consumers are quickly becoming used to seeing a seemingly ever-growing range for them to choose from. Consumers are also willing to try new options now more than ever before – and if they enjoy meat-free options, this will naturally become part of their diets without them explicitly subscribing to vegan or flexitarian diets. So taste is paramount.
Though many consumers are opting for meat analogues through a desire to expand their tastes, sustainability will still be among the top concerns fuelling buying power. A new term has been coined for those pursuing meat- and dairy-free options due to primarily being concerned by sustainability: climitarians.
Climitarians are flexitarians who are well-informed about how diet choices can affect the planet, including notions affecting food waste, emissions, and sustainable supply chains. They then apply this knowledge to their diets, and thus their buying choices.
Despite the increased application of environmental knowledge, some consumers will still opt for animal products to replace other animal products – such as replacing meat with eggs, continuing the high demand for animal-derived goods. DSM says this can be seen in the US, where consumers will predominantly replace meat with fish, not eggs as seen in many European countries.
Regionally, preferences amongst consumers differ in terms of the approach to plant-based products. For example, consumers in the Netherlands said they pay attention to real-world advice and flexitarian information, such as directly from supermarkets or friends and family. This region trusts the internet less for advice on changes to their diet.
France expresses similar views: 73% of respondents there said they would like to see more on-pack information when it comes to deciphering which foods are healthier choices. This data exemplifies the need for clean-label and authenticity in analogue products.
Diets such as flexitarianism and veganism are becoming more than just clear-cut choices. The introduction of climitarianism shows how external, real-world events can impact on consumer buying power. The knock-on effect of these diet trends has also led to consumers habitually choosing analogue products without labelling themselves as being flexitarian or vegan.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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