Gen Zs & Millennials are Leading Alternative Protein Consumption

Dec 21, 2020

New data is showing that the main market for alternative meat products are younger consumers, who are citing health, animal welfare and sustainability as the key reasons why they’re turning their backs on conventional meat.

These findings confirm the major shift in consumer trends led by the younger generation of shoppers including millennials and Gen Z, who are poised to dominate the economy in the future.

Recent research conducted by U.S. market research firm Packaged Facts has found that younger consumers, particularly those aged between 18 and 44, are the most likely to purchase and eat plant-based meat products. These include animal-free alternatives for meat, poultry and seafood that are currently on the market and are gaining popularity with Gen Zs and millennials due to concerns about health, poor conditions and abuse at industrial farms, and the carbon and environmental footprint of meat.

While the report delves into the current growth trends for plant-based alternatives, it also says the outlook for cell-based meat products is positive, citing the same health, sustainability and animal welfare concerns that younger consumers have about conventionally-farmed meat products. While cultured meats have yet to hit the market, the industry is set to commercialise in the near future following Eat Just’s regulatory approval from Singapore authorities to begin using its cultivated chicken as an ingredient for a chicken bites product.

The data, which is based on primary interviews, online consumer polls and supplementary statistics from previous surveys based in the U.S., found specifically that those within the 18 to 24 age group were 22% more likely than the overall population to eat plant-based meat, poultry or seafood alternatives. Meanwhile, the 65 and over age group were found to be the least likely to consume plant-based alternatives.

Millennials were also more likely to partake in choosing plant-based alternatives and currently make up the largest portion of plant-based meat eaters due to their market share, but statistics show that as Gen Zs take over the economy, they are likely to bring in more sweeping shifts away from conventional meat.

Analysts at the Bank of America, for instance, recently published their findings from a poll of over 14,000 Gen Z participants, and found that the majority of the group already practice meat restrictions of some kind, varying from vegans to flexitarians. The report noted that investors and companies should take note of the emerging trend, or risk falling by the wayside.

While interest in alternative proteins has risen over the past few years, the industry has received a major boost in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and disruption slaughterhouse and packaging plant outbreaks had on the global meat industry. Consumers worldwide have responded by doubling down on plant-based meat purchases, including many first-time buyers – the majority of whom say they will continue to choose alternative meats in the future.

Overall, the United Nations FAO estimates that this global pattern, notably driven by millennials and Gen Zs as reported in new data, will trigger the biggest drop in meat intake seen in decades.

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