US consumers still prefer beef to plant-based meat on nutrition and taste, survey shows

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Credit: CCF
Credit: CCF

[A] 79-page report​​ – commissioned by the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board and written by Glynn Tonsor and Ted Schroeder at Kansas State University and Jayson Lusk at Purdue University – surveyed 3,000 US adults in September 2020.

Just over two thirds (68%) indicated they regularly consumed meat, while the rest described themselves as flexitarian, vegetarians, vegans, or none of the above. 

Overall, note the authors, “Beef has a good image. Consumers’ perceptions of taste, appearance, price, and naturalness of beef greatly exceed that for plant-based proteins.”

While plant-based proteins score highest on animal welfare, health, and environmental concerns, “on average these are still slightly lower scores than beef for the same attributes​,” say the authors.

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When it comes to price, the assumption from many stakeholders in the plant-based industry has been that as plant-based meat approaches price parity with conventional meat, it will aggressively gain market share and ultimately even displace animal-based products [assuming all other things are equal, which right now, they are not]. 

But the data does not necessarily support this hypothesis, says the report: “​Changes in the price of beef have a much larger impact on consumer decisions to buy beef than the impact of changes in the price of plant-based offerings. This means plant-based burgers are relatively weak substitutes for beef.​”

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