Two-thirds of U.S. consumers who identify as flexitarians and nearly three-fourths of consumers who follow a non-animal protein diet consider themselves foodies. With holidays like Veganuary and alternative proteins becoming more mainstream, Signal Theory’s FoodThink research team dove deeper into its recent consumer study to see how food marketers could better position their brands for upcoming trending lifestyles. 

“Flexitarians are a dynamic group with constantly shifting tastes,” says Samantha Scantlebury, brand strategy director at Signal Theory. “Flexitarians might order a cheeseburger for lunch and make vegan Moroccan lettuce wraps for dinner. They are thrilled by the idea of trying something new. Regardless, flexitarians and those who don't consume animal protein are hungry for information and innovation. Brands that challenge the status quo are more appealing.”

FoodThink found the food habits of U.S. consumers are evolving just as quickly as fashion, exercise and other social trends, and they don’t want to compromise flexibility or choice when it comes to what they eat. 

Key insights from FoodThink research reveal unique habits of flexitarians and vegetarians:

  • More than half of flexitarians (54%) greatly enjoy trying different types of foods (compared to 43% of vegetarians and 34% of animal protein consumers). 
  • Flexitarians (57%) and vegetarians (63%) are more trusting of the food industry than animal protein consumers (36%).
  • 64% of flexitarians and 63% of vegetarians research more recipes and new products compared to two years ago and compared to the animal protein group. 
  • 70% of flexitarians and 74% of vegans/vegetarians are trying to eat healthier than they were two years ago, compared to only 34% of the animal protein group.
  • People identifying as non-white are 60% more likely to identify as flexitarian.

 As seen in the last FoodThink white paper, “Trust and Transformation: Comfort & Convenience in the Cart,” 84% of American consumers have shifted their food shopping behaviors in some way and 54% of the FoodThink respondents said they would adopt at least some of the changes to their food shopping behaviors they have made due to the pandemic. 

“Our research consistently reveals that consumers continually turn to food companies and grocers for information as their interest in learning more about the food they eat continues to increase,” adds Scantlebury. “This is good news for food marketers as consumers are looking for even more transparency in the food industry. The industry is more transparent than ever, but there is still plenty of room to grow.”

FoodThink is built on proprietary research that utilizes the responses from more than 2,000 U.S. consumers of diverse demographic backgrounds.