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1st February 2021  Content supplied by: The International Food Information Council

Protein Is Very Important for Health, Consumer Survey Finds

The pandemic changed eating habits for many people. Consumers give more importance to health, while the plant-based and clean label trends are growing faster than ever.

How do proteins fit in this evolving picture? The International Food Information Council tried to find out by asking 1,009 adults about their protein choices. The results are quite ineteresting: here you have the highlights.

Vegetarian and vegan diets may be trending but they're far from mainstream. In the survey, 76% of respondents identified themselves as omnivores, meaning they include animal meat in their diet. Of the non-omnivores, the majority, 9% of total, are vegetarians, while 7% are pescatarians, while only 2% are vegan. There was no option for 'flexitarian', although the authors of the survey included 'Vegetarian on some days', which obtained 5% of responses.

Protein is a very important macronutrient for people, especially for dinner. Most respondents stated that they try to include protein for dinner and lunch. Those who aim to add protein for breakfast are 49%. For moments of indulgence, by contrast, protein content is less important: snacks and treats received 19% and 6% responses respectively. The main reasons to include proteins are related to diet and health. When asked the top three reasons to include proteins in their diets, surveyed consumers indicated: to eat a balanced diet (42%); to satisfy hunger (36%); to build muscle (34%).

Taste is the most important factor, sustainability comes last. When asked about the most important factors when including protein to their diets, 25% of respondents indicated taste. Price and type of protein, however, followed closely with 20% of responses. Interestingly, environmental sustainability was the last on the list: less than 5% of respondents indicated it as the most important one.

Eggs are the most consumed type of protein source. Eggs are a cheap and a complete source of protein. More than 80% of respondents reported consuming it at least sometimes. Dairy and meat follow closely at 75%. Next are plant-based meat alternatives, with a little less than 40%.

Consumers are open to new protein choices. 29% didn't try any new source of plant proteins in the past year. Most of those who did, however, looked for meat substitutes.

Cell-based meat has still work to do to be accepted. When asked if they would swap their familiar protein source with lab-grown meat, 74% said they would stick with the familiar one. This is probably due to lack of knowledge. To this day, cultured meat is still a fringe technology known by a small circle of food tech and sustainability enthusiasts, while the general public hasn’t yet started to see it as a normal protein alternative.

26% of respondents being ready to try cultured meat, however, is a very promising start.



Date Published: 1st February 2021

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