Over the last several years, plant based-meats have swept through popular consciousness, supermarket shelves, and fast-food menus, giving vegans and omnivores alike the opportunity to enjoy the flavors and textures of meat but without the same environmental and biological impact. However, with demand for plant-based meat products estimated to be in decline, what is the future of meat-alternatives? 

While the number of U.S. adults who have tried and liked plant-based meat is up 1% from this time last year, those who have tried and disliked it are up 2%, making up nearly half (46%) of all respondents who have tried the products. The fact that increased dislike is growing faster than increased like of plant-based meat products paints an ominous picture for the future. 

Overall approval is still fairly low for two of the biggest plant-based meat burger competitors on the market: Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat. Just 11% of respondents tried and like the Impossible Burger and 10% tried and like the Beyond Meat burger. The percentage of those who tried but dislike the burgers have doubled for both brands from 2021 to 2022.

Price-point appears to be another barrier to further adoption. When it comes to grocery shopping, survey results find that those who have become more price sensitive in the last year are the most likely to report that they used to purchase plant-based meats, but don’t anymore. On the other hand, the small percentage of people who say they are less price sensitive now compared to last year are the biggest buyers of plant-based meat products.

And in terms of opinion, the majority of Americans do not sway in favor of plant-based meats. Currently, 32% of Americans do not believe that plant-based meat is better for their health or the environment. This is up from 30% who felt the same last year. An additional 33% say they are not aware of any benefits of plant-based meat. That suggests that if plant-based meats intend to last for the long-term, they’ll need to find a way to convince consumers of the positive health and environmental impacts of opting into this food movement.  

The remaining third of U.S. adults believe plant-based meat does offer health and/or environmental advantages, with more believing it holds environmental benefits over health benefits. However, those who feel that plant-based meat holds health benefits grew from 23% in 2021 to 25% today.

Rising grocery prices, increased product dissatisfaction, and uncertainty about who meat alternatives are benefitting may all be contributing to the decline of plant-based meat sales.

Surprisingly, CivicScience data also suggest that vegans are twice as likely to have tried and dislike meat alternatives than tried and like them. Women and the under 35-crowd are more likely to be favorable to the products.

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