According to the study, 53 percent of Canadians eat plant-based meat while one in five (18 percent) claim that they eat it a few times a week.
“Meat alternatives can be viewed as being the tip of the spear in terms of food innovation. While there’s no indication that Canadians will shun meat ‘en masse’ any time in the near future, consumers increasingly want more flexibility in their diet. Limiting meat consumption is one form of flexibility,” said Joel Gregoire, Associate Director at Mintel’s Canada Food and Drink Reports.
The vegan study digs a little further into Canadian eating habits, highlighting that 5 percent of Canadians identify as vegetarian while vegan Canadians represent 2 percent of the population. However, more evidence shows that the way individuals view plant-based meat is starting to change. 21 percent of Canadians reported that they think “meat alternatives are healthier than meat.”
Gregoire addressed the shift in consumer perceptions about plant-based meat in Canada: “Aside from health-related factors, considerations around sustainability are also influencing this movement, particularly among young women.”
The study also notes that among the types of plant-based meat Canadians are most likely to consume, meatless burgers led the way at 34 percent, while vegan chicken was a close second at 32 percent. One-quarter of Canadians report trying vegan hot dogs, deli slices, and bacon.
The report identified a few opportunities: only 23 percent believe that vegan meats are a “sufficient” alternative (versus 16 percent who believe that vegan meats taste just as good as animal-based meat). 31 percent look for products with meat-like flavors and 24 percent look for meat-like textures.
Gregoire identified this as an opportunity to reach Canadian meat-eaters: “There appears to be significant room to improve consumer perception of meat alternatives relative to meat. For those who don’t eat meat alternatives, blurring the line between meat and meat alternatives is crucial to winning over new converts.”
This is not the only study to document the growing popularity of plant-based meat in Canada. Recent data from Statistics Canada showed that overall, Canadians are eating less meat. Additionally, “vegan” was among the top-searched words in 2017, according to Google Canada.
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