New research from Mintel reveals that more than half (53%) of Canadians say they eat meat alternatives, including one in five (18%) who claim to eat them at least a few times a week.
The research shows the the opportunity to grow meat alternatives extends well beyond consumers following plant-based diets as just 5% of Canadians say they are vegetarian and only 2% eat vegan diets. A healthful reputation may be helping to drive the category as two in five (21%) Canadians overall agree that meat alternatives are healthier than meat.
A testament to the growing popularity of meat alternatives, global meat substitute launches nearly doubled between 2013 and 2017, growing 90% in the last five years, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD). While Germany leads the way, accounting for 11.9% of global meat substitute launches in 2017, the Canadian market is ripe for innovation as Canada accounted for just 1.4% of launches in the same time frame. Indeed, although meatless burgers (34%) and meatless poultry (32%) are the meat alternatives Canadians are most likely to consume, other meat alternative types are gaining traction among consumers. One quarter of Canadians say they have eaten meatless hot dogs (27%), meatless deli slices (26%) and meatless bacon (23%).
“Meat alternatives’ growing popularity is giving rise to innovation, and while new product development is currently low in Canada, the increase in global launch activity suggests there is opportunity to expand the category in the region given the fact that roughly half of Canadians claim to eat meat alternative products. In an effort to reach those consumers that are less open to eating meat alternatives, brands should focus on traditional product categories like burgers and poultry as an easy entry point, and a means to expand the category into areas such as hot dogs and deli meats,” said Joel Gregoire, Associate Director, Canada Food and Drink Reports, at Mintel.
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 (69%), followed by not liking the taste of meat alternatives (42%). Price is also a barrier for some as one in five (20%) say they don’t use meat alternatives because they’re too expensive, rising to more than one third (34%) of those aged 18-24.