How Grocers Can Step Up Their Plant-Based Game

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How Grocers Can Step Up Their Plant-Based Game

By Gina Acosta - 02/14/2020
How Grocers Can Step Up Their Plant-based Game
According to the study, 4% of Americans self-identify as vegan or vegetarian, and 20% choose plant-based dairy alternatives about two to five times a week, or more often

Grocers looking to take their plant-based strategy to the next level should be focused on educating shoppers about the environmental impacts of such diets.

A new survey from Earth Day Network (EDN) and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) shows that U.S. consumers are hungry for more climate-friendly plant-based diets, but need more information before they commit to such products.

The "Climate Change and the American Diet" report found that half (51%) of Americans say that they would eat more plant-based foods if they had more information about the environmental impacts of their food choices. However, 70% rarely or never talk about this issue with friends or family. Nearly two-thirds of the Americans surveyed report having never been asked to eat more plant-based foods, and more than half rarely or never hear about the topic in the media.

The report found more than half of Americans are willing to eat more vegetables and plant-based alternatives and/or less red meat. Additionally, consumers are already changing their diets and purchasing habits in favor of plant-based foods. 

Although 4% of Americans self-identify as vegan or vegetarian, 20% choose plant-based dairy alternatives about two to five times a week, or more often.

"Many American consumers are interested in eating a more healthy and climate-friendly diet," said Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University, in New Haven, Conn. "However, many simply don't know yet which products are better or worse — a huge communication opportunity for food producers, distributors and sellers."

Americans identified other barriers to eating more plant-based foods, including perceived cost, taste and accessibility. About half (49%) of Americans think that a meal with a plant-based main course is more expensive than a meal with a meat-based main course. 

The research, a national survey of 1,043 American adults, also showed that respondents would eat more plant-based foods if they cost less than meat options (63%) and if they tasted better (67%). Barriers of cost and access, including distance from grocery stores and access to fresh produce, affect lower-income households in particular. 

These and other findings come from a nationally representative survey of survey of 1,043 American adults (18 and older), conducted in December 2019 on the Ipsos KnowledgePanel. The research was funded by Washington, D.C.-based EDN as part of its Foodprints for the Future campaign.

In addition to Leiserowitz, principal investigators included Drs. Seth Rosenthal (Yale) and Matthew Ballew (Yale), and Jillian Semaan (EDN).

The rest of the report findings can be found here.