Q&A w/ FMCG Gurus: Plant Based Consumer Attitudes in 2020

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In the past couple of years, plant-based foods have become more popular amongst the masses. This is being driven by consumers changing their diets to lead healthier and more sustainable lifestyles and associating plant-based ingredients with being natural and having an array of health benefits. With most of the world in some form of lockdown for most of 2020, COVID-19 is also having an impact on consumers influencing their lifestyle choices.

FMCG Gurus is a market research and consumer insight agency focused on shifting attitudes and behaviours across the food, beverage and supplement markets around the world.

Their latest reports FMCG Gurus: Top Trend – Plant Life Explored 2020 Report and FMCG Gurus: How Has COVID-19 Changed Consumer Behaviour 2020 Report both highlight some interesting data about the changing consumer behaviour landscape and attitudes towards eating plant-based foods and purchasing meat substitute products.

Below, we talk to Will Cowling at FMCG Gurus on how consumer food buying habits are changing and what opportunities exist for the plant-based food and beverage industry.

GQ: Are consumers changing their habits when it comes to food?

WC: Due to a rise in consumers adopting a holistic health approach to life, they are constantly seeking new ways to stay healthy. Consumers are paying more attention than ever before to their diets and are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact that current lifestyles have on long-term health.

GQ: Covid-19 has really changed the consumer behaviour landscape. Can you share more about how consumers are feeling?

WC: COVID-19 is a once in a generation pandemic and has impacted consumers across the globe. Whilst the peak of the pandemic is said to have passed in many countries and society slowly returns to what it deemed the “new normal”, high levels of confusion, uncertainty and fear remain when it comes to COVID-19. Consumers are becoming more conscious about their health and wellbeing due to the pandemic and this has led to a rise in consumers looking towards plant-based options.

GQ: How has Covid-19 affected people’s perception of plant-based foods in general?

WC: In April 2020 FMCG Gurus consumer insights showed that 18% of global consumers were looking to include more plant-based foods within their diet as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July 2020, this has now increased by 8% to 26% of global consumers looking to increase their intake of plant-based foods.

GQ: What is the main reason for this change in demand for plant-based foods?

WC: The primary reasons for doing this is that plant-based products are deemed to be healthy, nutritious, and better for the planet. Interestingly consumers have looked to increase their plant-based consumption across many different markets.

FMCG Gurus consumer insights show that 3 in 10 consumers across the globe eat meat-substitutes.

Will Cowling, FMCG Gurus

GQ: What is the main reason for this change in demand for plant-based foods?

WC: The primary reasons for doing this is that plant-based products are deemed to be healthy, nutritious, and better for the planet. Interestingly consumers have looked to increase their plant-based consumption across many different markets.

GQ: What about concern for the environment? Do consumers care about this, according to your data?

WC: Health is definitely not the only driver of the plant-based market, it is also down to consumers looking to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Over the past few years consumer concern towards the environment has grown, as they become more aware of the impacts of their everyday lifestyle on the planet. When asked why consumers are turning to plant-based foods, 58% of global consumers said they have done so because it is better for the environment. This has increased 8% over the last three months.

GQ: What has been the biggest consumer behaviour change you have seen over the past 12 months?

WC: One way in which consumers are looking to lead a healthier lifestyle is by reducing their meat intake. FMCG Gurus consumers insights highlights that 54% of global consumers have stated they do not eat meat or have looked to reduce their meat intake in the last twelve months.

GQ: Why do you think reducing meat has become such a must for consumers?

WC: Given that excessive meat intake has been linked to health problems, it is no surprise consumers are looking to reduce their intake.

GQ: Can you share more about the rise in meat-substitutes, happening in parallel with consumers eating less meat?

WC: Reduction in meat has led to a growing popularity of meat-substitutes. FMCG Gurus consumer insights show that 3 in 10 consumers across the globe eat meat-substitutes. FMCG Gurus research shows that the majority of consumers have looked to plant-based meats with 36% of consumers purchasing these products. However it is important not to overestimate this trend as many barriers still exist when it comes to meat-substitutes.

GQ: What challenges lie ahead for plant-based meat brands and companies?

WC: FMCG Gurus research shows that 24% of global consumers say that they are concerned with the taste and texture of plant-based food. This shows that if plant-based foods and snacks are to become truly mainstream, brands need to offer reassurance around the taste and texture of products.


Lead image courtesy of iStock.


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