Rising demand for plant-based alternative meat and dairy products may not be the biggest problem facing conventional meat and dairy producers. In fact, new research from The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash., uncovered that almost all consumers — whether they purchase plant-based foods or not — have some level of distrust in meat and dairy companies/producers.
According to the “Food & Technology 2019: From Plant-based to Lab-grown report, a majority of consumers see plant-based alternatives as no different or better than conventional meat and dairy when it comes to being all natural, minimally processed, healthy and good for the environment and animals. This is true regardless of the plant-based category.
“Factory farming and its abuses have made consumers question the ethics of eating animal products; popular documentaries have eroded trust in the meat/dairy industries,” says Laurie Demeritt, chief executive officer. “The upside for the industries is that for the vast majority of consumers, meat and dairy still represent highly symbolic, routine and pleasurable categories.”
The study also finds that milk, meat and dairy alternatives are growing swiftly, while meat is growing slowly and milk is in decline. Over half of consumers (51%) have purchased plant-based milk, dairy or meat in the last three months. These products are no longer a niche lifestyle choice, but a prominent feature of mainstream food culture.
Likewise, less than half of plant-based purchasers think of themselves as people who are limiting meat, and one in five actually describes themselves as carnivores.