Nearly half of European consumers have noticeably reduced their meat consumption, Smart Protein survey reveals

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AUTHOR: Fiona Holland

46% of consumers across Europe have said they have actively lowered their consumption of meat products, according to a new pan-European consumer survey led by Smart Protein, in partnership with ProVeg International, the University of Copenhagen, Ghent University and Innova Market Insights.

Smart Protein is a €10M project funded by EU Horizon 2020 to help develop protein products and ingredients for consumers that positively impact the economy, environment, biodiversity, nutrition, food security, and consumer trust and acceptance.

Over 7,500 people from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the UK took part in the survey. They were asked about their consumption of plant-based produce, their trust in those products, as well as their eating habits.

Policy Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, Acacia Smith said: “These findings demonstrate soaring demand for plant-based options from consumers across Europe. But it will take further research and development to achieve the full potential of these foods to cut emissions and relieve pressure on ecosystems. If they are serious about meeting their climate targets, world leaders must invest in sustainable proteins.”

Omnivores still made up most of the consumers in the survey, followed by flexitarians. 37% of Europeans in the survey were either flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan.

The survey put a particular focus on developments in the flexitarian market, showing that 73% of them have significantly reduced how much meat they were including in their diets.

Over a quarter (30%) of Europeans taking part in the survey said they want to include more plant-based dairy and meat products in their diets.

Out of all the different kinds of consumers, flexitarians said they were the most likely to trust plant-based proteins first, followed by fungi and algae proteins.

Director of ENSA-European Plant-Based Foods Association Vinciane Patelou said: “European consumers’ appetite for plant-based foods is here to stay, as shown by the number of Europeans who say they want to eat more plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat in the future.

“The regulatory framework for these products, for instance in terms of labelling, must not lag behind and should help guide consumers towards these products.”

The survey also showed that potatoes and rice were the most popular ingredients for plant-based foods, with lentils, almonds, and chickpeas coming next. This consumer group also wants to see more dairy alternatives on the market, such as plant-based mozzarella and sliced cheese on the market.
Out of all the meat alternatives, plant-based poultry, beef, salmon and tuna were the products flexitarians wanted to see more of in supermarkets. Flexitarians also stated that the qualities they were looking for in plant-based foods were health, taste, freshness, no additives, and low price.

43% of consumers reported that they normally buy most of their groceries from discount stores, while nearly a quarter said they bought their food at specialty stores including butcheries and bakeries, proving their value on the market alongside supermarkets.

Christoph Georgius, Business Unit Director Corporate Responsibility and Quality Assurance International at ALDI Nordsaid: “The survey underlines one of the key trends of our time and confirms us in defining plant-based foods as a relevant topic for ALDI Nord.

“As a discount retailer in daily contact with millions of people we do not only have the opportunity but also consider it our responsibility to contribute to a balanced diet.

“Our aim is to make plant-based food easily available and affordable for everyone. We are committed to our customers’ wishes and thus constantly expanding and optimising our plant-based product range”.

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