Are plant-based foods a fad or a staying trend? New research from The NPD Group studied the answer to this question by looking at different generations.
The Future of Plant-based Snapshot study found that Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are the top consumers of plant-based meat alternatives. Gen Xers, born 1965 to 1980, are also a core consumer group of plant-based meat alternatives, and because many in this group are parents of Gen Zs, born 1997 to present, they've raised their Gen Z children on plant-based beverages and foods. Boomers are decelerating their consumption of plant-based meat alternatives but are the top consumers of plant-based dairy alternatives.
Notably, the research shows that 90% of plant-based users are neither vegetarian nor vegan, further solidifying the growth of flexitarianism.
"First and foremost taste is king when considering entering the plant-based foods category," says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "Attributes such as health and convenience go far to drive consumption, but if the flavor profile falls below consumers' expectations, then the product will likely have a short run. Whether it's marketing a plant-based burger that reproduces the meat-eating experience or a dairy alternative that has the taste and texture of milk, consumers now have substitution without sacrifice."
NPD forecasts that plant-based foods, to varying degrees, do have staying power since the core customer groups are younger.
The NDP Group is a Port Washington, N.Y.-based provider of sales and market information for general merchandise and foodservice.