Before the spread of COVID-19, plant-based meats were having a moment. From fast-food chains and restaurant kitchens to grocery store shelves, the avenues for selling and buying these meat alternatives were abundant. However, with several major plant-based meat companies placing their focus on commercial markets, how will these companies fare in the long-term? 

CivicScience asked more than 2,500 U.S. adults about their experience with purchasing plant-based meats in stores. Since the end of April, 18% have reported buying and enjoying these alternatives, while 9% plan to buy them. Those who have tried and like plant-based meat was at 15% in December of 2019 (pre-coronavirus) indicating U.S. adults have been looking for a meat substitute during their quarantined grocery shopping.

experience with buying plant-based meat in stores during quarantine

That said, interest in trying plant-based meats from a fast-food restaurant is still much higher, with 36% (“very likely” and “somewhat likely”) of respondents at least somewhat likely to give this option a try. There is similar interest in trying meat alternatives at fast-casual restaurants. However, that interest begins to drop when respondents were asked about trying this option at a fine-dining restaurant. This particular trend is not necessarily new, but may further strengthen the fact that in these uncertain times, willingness to try a meat alternative is when the cost is relatively low. 

Post-Quarantine Behaviors 

The people who are most likely to stay in quarantine are also big fans of plant-based meats. This could indicate that the rebound for purchasing meat alternatives could have a slightly slower pace.

The data further confirm that those most likely to try a plant-based meat at a fast-food restaurant are also the most likely to be waiting the longest to eat out again. 

As it stands, plant-based meats have retained their popularity–in theory. However, as Americans make the transition into a post-quarantine world, the road for meat alternative companies to regain any potential losses could, in fact, be a long one.