More Consumers, Both Vegetarian and Omnivores, are Eating Plant-​Based Protein

BY Rachel Cagle
Featured image for “More Consumers, Both Vegetarian and Omnivores, are Eating Plant-​Based Protein”

"Case shipments of plant-​based protein from broadline foodservice distributors to foodservice operators increased by 20% in the year ending November 2018 compared to year ago with all Census regions showing double-​digit growth, reports The NPD Group. The West Census Region represents the most plant-​based protein volume and case shipment growth followed closely by the South Census region, according to NPD’s SupplyTrack."

"About a quarter of the U.S. population, many of whom aren’t vegan or vegetarian, say that they eat and drink plant-​based beverages and foods as well as animal protein on a regular basis. Among the reasons why plant-​based proteins have mainstreamed is that consumers, in addition to adding protein to their diets, perceive them as being a 'better-​for-​you' option. There are also plant-​based fans who have concerns around animal welfare and they want to know how products are brought to market. These consumers have the belief that plant-​based protein provides 'clean meat' and eliminates many of these barriers."

"Burgers represent the largest plant-​based foodservice category and have year-​over-​year double-​digit growth in pounds shipped to foodservice operators, and it’s plant-​based burgers that are showing up the most on many restaurant menus.  Although plant-​based burgers are popular across demographics, an analysis done with NPD’s receipt mining service, Checkout, shows that smaller, more affluent ($100,000 and up) households are the top buyers of plant-​based burgers."  

Before Vegetarian Restaurant Diners head out to a restaurant to eat or a grocery store to buy food, they'll probably do their research to see which local restaurants and retailers have the best selection of plant-​based protein. According to AudienceSCAN, within the last month, 53.1% of these consumers used a search engine to research a product they were considering for purchase. They were probably using Google, the preferred search engine of 90.7% of these consumers. However, only 20.5% will go past the first page of results.“'Plant-based proteins are no longer just a meat replacement, it’s now its own category,' says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. 'It’s possible that protein overall is evolving into a category, whether animal meat, beans, nuts, soy, wild game or other proteins, in forms ranging from beverage to center-of-plate.'”

Restaurants and grocery stores can promote their plant-​based meat substitutes to Vegetarian Restaurant Diners digitally. Last year, according to AudienceSCAN, these consumers took action after receiving email ads (64.2%) and after either seeing an ad on their smartphone apps or after receiving an ad via text message (61.6%). They're also 63% more likely than other adults to click on text link ads on websites and 79% more likely to find ads on social networks useful. In the last year, 53.8% took action after seeing an out-​of-​home ad and 54.2% reacted to a cinema ad they’d seen.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.