New research results show that flexitarian consumers are driving the demand for plant-based foods. They are especially interested in transparent labels, sustainability, health, and exciting new food experiences. The global survey was conducted by the market research agency Insites Consulting, on behalf of BENEO, with 11,990 consumers in 10 countries.
Over recent years the plant-based trend has moved from being niche into the mainstream. With one in four consumers globally calling themselves flexitarians, and only 7% across the world (10% in the US) identifying themselves as vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian, flexitarians have become the most important target group for manufacturers of plant-based products. Approximately half of the flexitarians already buy alternatives to meat (45%) and dairy (49%), with almost one in three also buying plant-based sweets like chocolate (32%). With another third interested in meat and dairy alternatives, flexitarians can be converted to these categories with the right products. That is why understanding the key motivations and expectations of flexitarians is vital for product development and marketing success.
Compared to other consumers, flexitarians are especially interested in sustainability and transparent labels: 84% are concerned about climate change and the environment, 86% want to know how their food is made and what is in it, and 60% consider product quality and traceability labels when shopping (compared to 41% of the general population). This shows the importance for producers to prioritize such information on-pack in order to incentivize the purchasing decision process.
Flexitarians are also interested in health and exciting new food experiences. The majority take active steps to make their nutrition healthier, with about 7 in 10 paying attention to on-pack information and nutritional claims (compared to 5 in 10 in the general population). Half of the flexitarians want to keep up with the latest food trends, creating exciting product development opportunities for those producers who can meet their demand for more adventurous foods across a range of applications and different cuisines. However, similar to the general population, pleasant taste and texture remain key to repeat purchases for flexitarians.
Sixty-three percent of flexitarians say it is important that plant-based dairy alternatives have a neutral, non-cereal taste and almost half want to see tastier options in the plant-based sweets and bakery aisles.
BENEO offers a range of ingredients and expertise in creating clean and clean-label recipe concepts to help meet the increased demand for plant-based foods that deliver both in terms of texture and taste. These include BENEO’s wide range of rice ingredients, which deliver creamy and smooth textures, good stability, and a clean taste for dairy alternatives, such as dairy desserts, yogurts, dairy-free cheese alternatives, and plant-based confectionery.
Myriam Snaet, head of market intelligence and consumer insights at BENEO, comments: “Flexitarians are the driving force within the plant-based segment, and they are also a sophisticated target group. They are looking for a convenient way to include innovative and adventurous taste experiences in their daily diet and aren’t willing to compromise on enjoyment. Delivering on taste and texture is key to building a loyal consumer base. Thanks to ingredients such as those from BENEO it is possible for ‘plant-based’ and ‘indulgence’ to go hand in hand for a wide variety of applications.”
For further details and insights on the Insites Consulting consumer research, Myriam Snaet, head of market intelligence and Consumer Insights at BENEO, is available for comment.
BENEO Global Plant-Based Survey 2021 - Insites Consulting conducted an online quantitative survey in July 2021 in Spain, France, Germany, Poland, UK, U.S., Brazil, Australia, China and Russia: min. 1000 consumers/ country = 11,990 consumers in total; sample of flexitarians = 2905.