Why do consumers trust – and distrust – meat alternatives?

Vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives are still a relatively new phenomenon in the West. Even the oldest companies producing them have been around for a significantly shorter period of time than animal agriculture, which stretches back 10,000 years. Thus, consumers still need time to get used to it.  

Research from ‘consumer awareness’ organisation ProVeg International revealed that, while consumer trust in plant-based protein is increasing steadily, and they appear to be aware of the benefits, there is still a long way to go before trust levels are high enough for full adoption.  

Why do some consumers not trust plant proteins?

Trust in plant proteins is higher than it once was, but there is still a long way to go. ProVeg’s research showed that while 46% of consumers assessed stated that their trust has improved or increased, 39% of consumers still do not trust them.

Trust, according to Elsa Guadarrama, consumer and market research manager at ProVeg International, regards consumers’ ‘knowledge and experience with plant-based alternatives.’ “Trust correlates quite well with increased consumption,” she suggested at the Smart Protein Closing Conference in Berlin last month.

Trust is often linked less to the actual safety of consuming plant proteins, Guadarrama suggested, but instead their supply chain.

Price parity and plant-based meat

Previous research​ by ProVeg has shown that one of the main barriers for consumer adoption of plant-based meat is cost. Price parity has on occasion been achieved, but in the overall market still remains a long way off.

One of the reasons for this, according to ProVeg CEO Jasmijn de Boo, is because the meat industry receives more subsidies than plant-based foods, giving it an advantage when it comes to costing.