The research of more than 6,221 consumers across nine European countries including the UK, by food awareness organisation ProVeg International, found that consumers wanted to see more plant-based cheeses available, while there were major growth opportunities in plant-based seafood and egg alternatives.
Of the respondents, more than three-quarters (76%) were plant-based eaters (people who ate mainly or only plant-based food), while 24% were reducers (people who were reducing or trying to reduce their consumption of meat and/or other animal-based products).
The survey results showed that although customers of specific plant-based products tended to be satisfied, they also thought there were not enough plant-based options available in retail locations in almost every food category.
Consumers wanted to see more variety in terms of product types, raw materials, textures and flavours, as well as more products suitable for different types of lifestyles and use occasions, the report said.
Plant-based cheese was the product that both reducers and plant-based eaters said they would most like to see more of in supermarkets.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) said they wanted to see more plant-based cheese in supermarkets because they thought there were too few options at present.
Plant-based ready meals was the second most in-demand product for reducers, and the third most in-demand for plant-based eaters. Reducers also wanted to see more plant-based meat alternatives that mimicked meat, while plant-based eaters were looking for more plant-based baked goods and chocolates.
Plant-based seafood and egg alternatives, in particular, revealed major growth opportunities. Only 16% of reducers had already purchased and tried plant-based seafood, while, for egg alternatives, the consumption rate was even lower, at only 11%.
Verena Wiederkehr, head of food industry and retail at ProVeg International, said: “Both plant-based cheese and ready meals represent huge opportunities for growth. We recommend that manufacturers focus on expanding their ranges of these in-demand products and, particularly in the case of plant-based cheeses, work on improving taste and texture.
“There are very few stand-alone egg alternatives on the market – far fewer than egg replacements for baking. If we also factor in eggs’ versatility, their breadth of function and the frequency with which they are consumed, it becomes clear that the plant-based egg space is another major opportunity that is ripe for investors looking to support innovative start-ups.”
Countries that took part in the survey included the UK, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, France and Czech Republic.