More than 50% of Canadians eat meat alternatives: report

Canadian Pizza
April 19, 2018
By Canadian Pizza
Toronto – It seems meat alternatives are increasingly making their way onto plates across the country as new research from Mintel suggests that more than half of Canadians say they eat meat alternatives, including one in five who claim to eat them a few times a week.

A healthful reputation may be helping to create interest in meat alternatives, Mintel said in a news release. While just five per cent of Canadians say they are vegetarian and only two per cent eat vegan diets, two in five Canadians overall agree that meat alternatives are healthier than meat.

International meat-substitute launches nearly doubled between 2013 and 2017, growing 90 per cent in the last five years, according to Mintel's Global New Products Database. The Canadian market is ripe for innovation as Canada accounted for just 1.4 per cent of launches in 2017. Canadians are most likely to consume meatless burgers and meatless poultry are the meat alternatives, and other meat alternative types are gaining traction among consumers: one quarter of Canadians say they have eaten meatless hot dogs, meatless deli slices and meatless bacon.

Despite increasing interest, the largest barrier to eating meat alternatives is meat itself. In fact, the top reason consumers who don’t eat meat alternatives say they don’t eat them is because they prefer meat, followed by not liking their taste. Price is also a barrier for some as 20 per cent say they don’t use meat alternatives because they’re too expensive, rising to 34 per cent of those aged 18 to 24.

Meat alternatives still have a ways to go as only 23 per cent of Canadians overall agree that meat alternatives are a sufficient substitute for meat and 16 per cent think that these products taste as good as meat. What’s more, about one-third look for meat-like flavours and one quarter look for meat-like textures when purchasing meat alternatives.

“There appears to be significant room to improve consumer perception of meat alternatives relative to meat," said Joel Gregoire, associate director, Canada Food and Drink Reports, at Mintel. "For those who don’t eat meat alternatives, blurring the line between meat and meat alternatives is crucial to winning over new converts. While few Canadians follow vegetarian or vegan diets, many do consume meatless products, suggesting that the true opportunity extends beyond those consumers who avoid meat, to those who love meat but may be looking for some healthy options. Meat alternatives that are indistinguishable from ‘real meat’ stand the best chance of realizing the category’s potential."

Overall, the report said, consumers are placing more focus on protein. Canadians are more likely to use traditional sources of protein such as eggs, nuts, dairy-based foods and beans; however, they are interested in trying pea protein, spirulina and insects such as cricket powder.

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