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Consumers are calling for better and more plant-based foods

A new Danish consumer analysis conducted for Danish Food Innovation by the Danish Technological Institute concludes that plant-based alternatives to meat, milk and cheese does not taste good enough and does not have enough variety. Therefore, it is difficult for consumers to cut down on the animal-based foods despite their wish to eat more plant-based.

Almost 80% of the surveyed consumers answer that they have experienced plant-based products that did not live up to their expectations, mainly due to taste and consistency. At the same time, close to 70% of the consumers report that they would like to consume more plant-based products. But habits, lack of inspiration and taste are the main reasons why it does not happen.

“Consumers in this analysis demand more variety in the plant-based products and products with improved taste and consistency. It is therefore necessary to think in other directions and launch better products or completely new categories of plant-based products. Here, knowledge sharing and collaborative projects in innovation networks can be an important tool”, says Innovation Manager Helle Vedel Friis, Danish Food Innovation.

According to the study, it is advantageous to work with both raw materials, processing methods and completely new meal solutions:

“We know that the food industry is working hard to develop tasteful plant-based products, but there must be further focus on new raw materials, processing methods, development and testing of taste and consistency as well as innovative meal solutions”, says center manager Anne Louise Dannesboe Nielsen, Danish Technological Institute.

Three main areas in focus

The surveyed consumers pointed to meat substitutes, plant drinks and plant-based “cheese” as the products that could benefit from improvement. Therefore, according to Danish Food Innovation and the Danish Technological Institute, there are three areas that the food industry can focus on in their product development to make it easier for consumers to eat more plant-based:

  1. Product development of meat substitutes: Consumers demand more convenience, ready meals and food-on-the-go as well as better taste and consistency.
  2. A wider selection of alternatives to the classic dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, cream and sour cream. The taste experience must be closer to the traditional products.
  3. More products within new categories such as fish and eggs. The market today is driven by meat substitutes and plant drinks, but these are areas that are moving abroad.

The consumer survey involved 268 people divided into 208 women and 60 men and was distributed across different age groups. The participating consumers were chosen based on their motivation to cut down on their meat consumption and people having a lifestyle as vegetarians or vegans. Consumers were recruited from the Danish Technological Institute’s consumer database and via social media.

Habits are not enough

In the survey, 42% of consumers said that they eat meat four to six times a week. 22% of the consumers surveyed were vegans or vegetarians. Consumers were asked if they intended to cut down on their meat consumption, and nearly 70% of the participating consumers was. For a predominance of consumers, their eating habits were the reason for not reducing the meat intake. In addition, they indicated the lack of inspiration for plant-based meals and the taste of the meat-free products.

“If you want to reach that group, you need new products. Consumers’ motivation not to eat meat or to eat less meat in this study is mainly based on environmental/climate, health and animal welfare considerations. In addition, ethics and price are also mentioned. Therefore, it is important that these factors are taken into account in the development of new products and meal solutions”, says center manager Anne Louise Dannesboe Nielsen, Danish Technological Institute.

Source: Danish Technological Institute (In Danish)