New Research Shares The Unexpected Reason People Buy Plant-Based Meat

According to Statista, the global meat substitute market is quickly growing. It was valued to be worth $6.67 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $16.7 billion by 2026. And while you may expect the reason for this boom to be based on an increasing interest in animal rights or the environmental benefits of choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet, new research has discovered this might not be the case.

A recent study completed by consumer insights platform Veylinx looked into some of the reasons people are choosing plant-based meat alternatives and what might convince additional consumers to switch. According to Veylinx's research shared in a press release, people are more likely to choose plant-based meat alternatives because of their health benefits or superior taste than other concerns. The study was performed by asking participants to place a bid on an item based on the maximum price they would be willing to pay. In a statement sent to Tasting Table, Veylinx claims this method has been found to accurately measure consumer demand for a product or concept, as participants believe they will potentially have to actually pay the amount they bid.

Consumers choose alternatives based on personal benefits

The Veylinx study found that consumers over the age of 18 who do at least some of the grocery shopping for their household said they choose meat alternatives for personal benefits. 42% of participants, who said they tend to buy vegetable-based proteins, claimed they do so because they are "healthier than meat." Another 35% said that they choose to go meatless because they "prefer the taste." Notably, according to additional information provided to Tasting Table from Veylinx, only 29% stated they purchase faux meat products due to concerns over animal welfare; 28% stated they do so out of concern for the environment.

When it comes to winning over new consumers, the numbers were even lower: 16% stated they would consider purchasing plant-based meats due to environmental concerns, and 14% cited animal welfare as a possible reason to make the switch.

The study also tested the effectiveness of negative messaging as a means to sway consumers away from consuming meat. They found that demand falls when consumers are presented with statements "highlighting the negative effects of meat consumption," but only by a small margin.

According to the study's findings, animal welfare messaging reduces interest in meat by a mere 7%, and environmental messaging by only 6%. Though the number one reason for purchasing alternative meat products, interest surprisingly only dropped by 2% when consumers were warned about the negative health effects of meat consumption.