Kerry carried out research with over 1,500 consumers across four countries – US, UK, Australia and Brazil – to uncover sensory expectations around plant-based burgers and cheese alternative slices.
The research found that flexitarians, the key consumer group driving the growth of plant-based, are more critical of products versus vegan and vegetarian consumers. While sustainability is a top driver, consumers are unwilling to compromise on taste and seek products that are as close to the taste experience of animal products as possible.
The research found that 60% of UK consumers started eating plant-based products because they are considered ‘healthier’ and 76% will buy a plant-based burger described as ‘authentic chargrilled-tasting’.
Meanwhile, 63% of US consumers started eating plant-based products because they believe plant-based is ‘better for the planet’ while 51% of Australian consumers said it was for a better environmental impact. In Brazil 67% of Brazilian consumers continue to buy plant-based because they are committed to improving their own (or their family’s) overall health
The research also found that consumers desire products with improved succulence and a ‘bite’ that feels as close to meat as possible and want meat alternatives with improved nutrition.
Fiona Sweeney, strategic marketing director at Kerry, said: “The need for a great taste experience is universal. For plant-based foods, which are often chosen by consumers as a more sustainable option, ensuring great taste can be a gateway to delivering innovative and sustainable nutrition solutions for consumers around the world. However, ensuring a great taste experience - involving a full sensorial experience of sight, sound and texture - is highly complex and in plant-based foods it is inherently more challenging because the bar is set high with meat and dairy as the benchmark.”
She said that as the flexitarian consumer is the key group driving category growth in plant-based foods across the world their plant-based taste expectations are driven by the fact they still eat meat.
“Overall, our research found that flexitarians are more critical of the plant-based products currently available on the market,” she added.