Plant-based alternatives fast becoming part of the mainstream


Royal DSM, a global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living, has published a new report in its Consumer Insights Series that shows that many consumers are adding more plant-based food and beverages to their diets

The report, based on DSM’s survey of 2500 consumers in Europe and the US, shows that 46% of people who consume dairy daily also occasionally consume dairy alternatives.

One in four people who are reducing their meat intake consume meat analogues on a regular basis.

The trend towards more plant-based diets has grown significantly in recent years. Not only are vegan and vegetarian diets increasingly popular, but so are the flexitarian diet and part-time veganism.

These diets put more focus on what is added to the diet — a healthy variety of plant-based foods — than on what is restricted. This has encouraged consumption of meat and dairy alternatives by a broader set of consumers, bringing both opportunities and new challenges for food producers.

“The results of our survey show that consumers are looking to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet, and that this trend is not slowing down,” says Carin Gerzon, Global Head of Marketing Communications at DSM Food Specialties.

“At the same time, consumers care a lot about taste and texture, and our results show that more can be done on this front. Around half of the meat reducers we surveyed said they thought meat analogues tasted just OK.”

DSM’s report shows that vegetarians and vegans are more satisfied with the taste of meat analogues than flexitarians.

A reason for this may be the effects of comparison. Flexitarians have a consistent comparison point with the taste of real meat, influencing their evaluation of meat analogues.

One in three respondents to DSM’s survey said they would pay more for meat analogues that taste more like meat, and the same number would pay more for meat analogues with a similar nutritional profile to meat.

“Although taste is important, there is a caution for producers of meat and dairy alternatives,” says Ms Gerzon.

“Our survey results are very clear that personal health is the main reason consumers are swapping meat and dairy for plant-based alternatives, and sustainability is a close second."

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"Although producing foods with the best taste and texture possible, producers should keep salt, sugar, and fat levels low to promote health and continue making efforts to improve the sustainability credentials of their products.”