Taste is most important factor for flexitarians
Research from Kerry has showed that sustainability and health concerns are driving Australian consumers’ interest in plant-based meat alternatives but that the taste of these products may be leaving consumers unenthused. The report suggests that plant-based meat alternatives need to surmount particular sensory shortcomings for Australian consumers to fully embrace them.
The research, which involved 1500 consumers from Australia, Brazil, the UK and the USA, looked at how plant-based burgers and cheese slices were received. The findings showed that flexitarians — those looking to minimise but not eliminate meat — were more critical of these products than vegans or vegetarians, and that taste and similarity to the animal products were important purchasing drivers for these consumers. The fact that flexitarians were still happy to eat meat and thus were basing their purchasing requirements on animal products was cited as justification for this response.
The report also found that 60% of Australians had started eating plant-based products due to their perception as being healthier, while 51% continued purchasing them based on the environmental impacts. It noted that a majority of Australians would be willing to try a plant-based burger so long as it could be described as “authentic chargrilled-tasting” and that it ought to have a particular sort of texture that resembles animal meat.
The surveyed consumers also felt that the characteristic sizzling sound of a burger being pressed onto a hot pan was essential, with most people finding the sound essential to enjoyment of a product. Similarly, caramelisation is seen as an important part of the meat equation, as it signifies a burger as ready to eat.
“With plant-based foods, the demand for a great taste experience is universal,” said Kirsty Down, Technical Sales Development Director at Kerry ANZ. “However, delivering a great taste experience involving the full sensorial experience of sight, sound and texture is highly complex and in plant-based foods it is inherently more challenging because the bar is set high with meat as the benchmark, particularly among Australia’s flexitarian consumers.
“The flexitarian consumer, the key consumer group driving category growth in plant-based foods across the world, is actively trying to cut their meat and dairy consumption. However, as they still eat meat and dairy products, their plant-based taste expectations are driven by these experiences. Overall, our research found that flexitarians are more critical of the plant-based products currently available on the market.”
The report is available online from Kerry as a series of e-books.
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