Meat alongside plant-based food, both on trend in 2020

While the plant-based food is becoming more prevalent among consumers of all ages, the meat category is also experiencing an increase in popularity, particularly in the US and Europe in recent years.

“Consumers’ perception of meat as a tasty and high-quality protein is driving the reinvention of meat and will secure its permanent place on the plate and as a snack,” said Julian Mellentin, author of the report ‘10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2020’ from New Nutrition.The annual trend analysis identifies meat as a growth opportunity, alongside plant-based food.

In response, creative meat producers are taking steps to reinvent their category with sustainability, provenance and convenience, with US sales of meat snacks growing 6.7% to $4.5 billion (IRI) in 2019. Nielsen data also indicates that meat brands that communicate about provenance, sustainability and animal welfare are growing fast and earning premium prices. US sales of meat with health or environmental claims increased, led by ‘organic’ up 13.1% and ‘grass-fed’ up 12.2%.

Key consumer trends identified in the report indicate that consumers are currently receptive to positive messages about meat, due to the influence of other trends, such as protein, lower-carb and the rebirth of fat. Consuming fewer carbs — generally by eating more fat and/or protein through meat — is growing in popularity, fuelled by diet patterns such as keto. The American Diabetes Association reports that low-carb eating can also fight diabetes and aid weight management, and is being adopted by doctors in the UK.

Fear of sugar is now mainstream, with 80% of US consumers limiting or avoiding sugar in their diets, with similar levels of concern in Europe and South America. This reflects the fragmentation of consumer beliefs, as research indicates honest indulgence as a big growth driver.

“In the midst of the focus on health and nutrition, let's not forget that most people buy bakery products for pure pleasure. Natural ingredients, provenance and great taste all matter more than nutrition,” said Mellentin.

Many cereals and granolas are also gaining sales by using inulin in order to offer consumers low-sugar products that also benefit digestive wellness. The Troo Granola brand in the UK uses inulin syrup in its products as it serves as both a prebiotic and a sweetener, giving a more appealing taste to consumers while reducing sugar content. The dual benefits have increased demand for inulin, with the number of products featuring inulin doubling between 2012 and 2019.

The 10 key trends identified in the report are:

Digestive Wellness
Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
Sugar — Reinventing Sweetness
Rebirth of Fat
Meat Reimagined
Provenance and Authenticity
Energy 2.0
The report also identified four ‘mega trends’ for companies in all categories to adapt:

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