Vegetable protein is included in a recent report by the Food Marketing Institute, which has those in the fruit and vegetable industry looking at how it can cash in on consumers who sometimes substitute meat protein with plant protein.
The FMI report notes 73 percent of consumers sometimes serve vegetable protein instead of animal protein in its Power of Produce report. Leading the trend are millennials and Gen Z.
Among those groups, 83 percent occasionally use plant-based protein, compared to only 59 percent of baby boomers.
Income plays a role affecting plant-based protein consumption, with 80 percent of households making $75,000 or more using it, versus 63 percent of households making $35,000 or less.
Including plant-based protein is also more common in households with children — 81 percent compared to 66 percent in households without kids at home, per FMI.
Additionally, integrating plant-based protein is popular among shoppers who engage in other produce department trends, including those who buy organic (86 percent use plant protein at least occasionally), those who buy local produce (85 percent), and those who buy produce online (86 percent).
“Leveraging nutrition attributes, including protein, is another important way for category growth,” FMI wrote in its report. “Protein is one of the most popular nutrition-related callouts across the entire store. The move to more of a flexitarian lifestyle has resulted in the rise of plant-based protein as an occasional alternative to meat protein, as evidenced by the survey data as well as retail measurement data.
“Nielsen found that plant-based meat alternatives have seen 20 pecent growth over the past year, with sales topping $3.3 billion,” FMI wrote.
The plant-based movement is easy to identify on Instagram, where millions of posts include hashtags related to the eating style.
Even though fruits and vegetables are plants, conversation around plant-based diets typically revolves around substituting items that aren’t plant-based with similar alternatives. Because of the popularity of the plant-based movement, however, produce has been looking to push its appeal to people exploring plant-based eating.