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26th June 2024  Product update: newprotein staff writer

Plant-Based Nuggets Outperform Chicken Nuggets in World's Largest Blind Taste Test

Plant-based nuggets beat chicken in the biggest blind taste test with omnivores worldwide, according to a study by Nectar, the research division of Food System Innovations.

For its first Taste of the Industry assessment, the nugget was the only category where the substitute tasted better than meat, using animal-based meat as the standard.

Because it was a simple broad sell—breaded and fried—the plant-based nugget proved successful. Plant-based shopping is expanding due in large part to mainstream customers, and to attract to those who eat both, items must taste as good or better than animal equivalents. The report summary covers:

Consumer satisfaction
Many consumers are satisfied with the leading plant-based products but are still demanding more from the average plant-based product.

  • Plant-based leaders are liked by a meaningful share of consumers – 37-53% rated the plant-based leader as ‘like very much’ or ‘like’ (excluding hot dogs).
  • There is high variation in liking within and across categories – there was a wide range in liking within categories, breaded products were generally higher-rated, and hot dogs far underperformed other categories.
  • The blended burger leader achieved significantly higher liking than the leading plant-based burger – average liking for the blended product was half of a rating higher than the plant-based leader (p<.1).


Competitive Positioning
Plant-based leaders are close to, or beyond, taste parity with animal products, but there’s a larger gap for the average plant-based product.

  • Leading plant-based products are generally comparable or preferred to the animal – plant-based nuggets are preferred while bacon, burgers, and tenders are within roughly one ‘liking’ rating of the animal product (however, hot dogs are still far behind).
  • The average plant-based product is meaningfully behind the animal product – average liking was 2 rating levels beneath the animal (e.g., ‘like very much’ -> ‘like somewhat’).


Research and Development Opportunities
Plant-based products have clear opportunities to improve.

  • Improvement is feasible – plant-based leaders were rated ‘like very much’ or ‘like’ 2-3x as often as their category average and showed significant outperformance across almost all sensory dimensions.
  • Plant-based products should strive for ‘bolder’ profiles – participants demanded bolder profiles (e.g., meatier, saltier, juicier), a common area of relative strength within the category for the plant-based leader.

Download Full Study at



Date Published: 26th June 2024

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