Plant-based food sales in the U.S. hit a record $7.4 billion in 2021, and new consumer research to better understand shopping behaviors could accelerate the industry’s growth. Kroger collaborated with the Plant Based Foods Institute (PBFI), sister non-profit to the Plant Based Foods Association, to conduct research for a new “Plant-Based Foods Migration Analysis Report” to understand plant-based shopper behavior and sentiment, leveraging 84.51° data science and insights.
In a summary of research findings:
- 95% of plant-based consumers surveyed said they increased or maintained their plant-based spend versus the prior year.
- In year two, plant-based consumers generally decrease or maintain their level of spending on animal-based foods, which shows a reversal from year one (COVID timeframe) spending.
- 43% of plant-based customers increasing or new to plant-based products choose plant-based milks over conventional dairy milk.
- Customers who buy plant-based foods are motivated by personal health concerns (such as cardiovascular or cancer concerns) and 49% state they believe plant-based alternatives are healthier than animal-based foods.
The Plant-Based Foods Migration Analysis, part one of the research, measured changes in plant-based customer spending in animal-based and plant-based foods across five categories—cheese and yogurt, refrigerated and frozen meats, milk and frozen meals—and revealed consumer shifts in engagement with each grocery segment. In part two, a comprehensive Plant-Based Foods Survey, explored plant-based consumer motivations for these shifts. The comprehensive research evaluated purchases by nearly eight million households over two years and categorized shoppers into five segments, ranging from shoppers new to the plant-based category to shoppers leaving the category. These segments are: New, Increasing, Maintaining, Decreasing and Leaving plant-based foods.
Findings from the report indicate plant-based engaged households that purchased plant-based foods from 2020 to 2021 typically decreased or maintained annual spending for animal-based foods. The average plant-based household that either maintained or increased their spend with plant-based foods, decreased their spend with animal-based foods by up to $28.21. According to 84.51°, this suggests that households buying plant-based foods continue to substitute more animal-based products with plant-based alternatives over time and that the increasing popularity of flexitarian diets may reduce conventional meat consumption.
“One of the ways we can measure the impact of plant-based foods is to understand the displacement of animal-based foods in favor of plant-based foods through comprehensive research,” said Julie Emmett, senior director of marketplace development for PBFI.
The study also provides insights into plant-based category performance and offers a blueprint for understanding which plant-based foods are associated with high engagement within the overall category. For example, plant-based shoppers who increased their plant-based cheese purchases also had the highest total spend in the plant-based foods category, while also being less engaged with animal-based foods. This means plant-based cheese shoppers are some of the most dedicated to the plant-based lifestyle.
In addition to the observed shift in spending, the research included a survey of plant-based shoppers to better understand the motivations behind the changes. About 95% of plant-based consumers surveyed said they increased or maintained plant-based consumption versus the prior year. Among the Plant-Based Increaser segment:
- 43% report choosing plant-based milk instead of animal-based milk
- Nearly 30% are choosing refrigerated plant-based meat and frozen meals instead of animal-based items in the same categories
- Nearly 20% are choosing plant-based cheese and yogurt instead of animal-based products in the same categories.
Surveyed Plant-Based Increaser households attribute health as the leading reason why they are increasing their plant-based consumption, with 54% citing personal health concerns (such as cardiovascular or cancer concerns) and 49% state they believe plant-based alternatives are healthier than animal-based foods.
Among Plant-Based Decreasers that were asked what would make them more likely to consume plant-based, 64% say lower pricing and/or more frequent sales and coupons, and 58% say better taste and/or texture. For Plant-Based Increasers, when asked how shopping could be made easier, 61% stated price promotions and 29% said that recipes would be helpful.
Report Abusive Comment