Consumers Increasingly Willing to Switch to Alternative Proteins: Report

Boston Consulting Group survey reveals how inflation, health and environmental concerns are driving real growth in this market
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Are consumers turning over a new leaf as they navigate inflation and environmental concerns? A new report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows that higher prices for animal proteins and a higher priority on issues like climate impact and food security are contributing to continued growth in alternative proteins.

According to “The Untapped Climate Opportunity in Alternative Proteins conducted by BCG and impact investor Blue Horizon, alternative proteins hold appeal for a broad swath of consumers. They found that 76% of global consumers are familiar with alternative proteins and 31% say that having a positive climate impact is their main reason to fully switch their diets to alternative proteins. Three-quarters of respondents said they are motivated by a desire to eat healthier.

Consumers Increasingly Willing to Switch to Alternative Proteins: Report
(Source: Boston Consulting Group, Blue Horizon)

Sentiment is leading to action, too. Half (50%) of “experienced users” have increased their consumption of alternative proteins over the past couple of years.

That said – and underscoring the power of price – the research showed that no consumer in any region is willing to pay a premium for alternative proteins that match meat for taste, texture and nutrition. To do so, they would look for some kind of additional value.

"Nearly one in three people across the world are plagued by food insecurity. Coupled with the impact of the continued geopolitical crises on the supply chain and food prices, there is immense pressure on the global food system," remarked Ben Morach, a BCG managing director and partner. "Pivoting away from animal-based proteins will lead to shorter, more resilient and potentially more local supply chains. Widespread adoption of alternative proteins can remove the risk of supply chain disruptions and play a critical role tackling climate change, with consumers playing a key part in propelling this transition."

Bjoern Witte, CEO of Blue Horizon, also weighed in on the implications of the survey. "The products consumers are seeing on the shelves today will be followed by a wave of cleaner, healthier and tastier alternative proteins, as technology allows for increasing innovation,” Witte predicted. “We've seen the fast-paced development of these technologies in our own portfolio as well as the wider food-tech industry, leading to an overall better consumer product range. This is great news for today's consumers, but we're just at the beginning, really.

In their research, BCG and Blue Horizon affirmed that switching over to alternative proteins like plant-based proteins and animal cell-based products is a capital-efficient way to avoid emissions. The firms noted that alternative proteins are pegged to represent at least 11% of all meat, seafood, eggs and dairy consumed globally by 2035; such products can save three times the emissions for each dollar invested compared with the decarbonization of cement.

“The positive impact is absolutely massive, and secular drivers have never been stronger – the time to invest is now,” added Witte.

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