WHILE surveys showed up to 17 percent of Australian households trialled plant-based meat substitutes over a 12 month period, the curiosity factor is now gone and sales are in decline, producers were told at Meat & Livestock Australia’s Updates forum in Toowoomba last week.
MLA’s general manager for marketing and insights, Nathan Low said the consumer story on plant-based meat substitutes was really good for the red meat industry.
“The reason there is no mention of plant-based in our red meat brand marketing campaigns is because it’s not really a threat,” Mr Low said.
According to Neilsen Homescan retail sales data, market share for plant-based in the domestic market has capped out at 0.4 percent of overall meat category sales, which made it “incredibly niche.”
“Plant-based has now had two consecutive periods of penetration decline, which means less and less sales. People have trialled it, out of curiosity, but it tapped-out at just above 17pc penetration (households that had tried it over the previous 12 months), and is now down to 14.5pc of households making a purchase over the past year,” Mr Low said.
Over the last year, value of sales of plant-based proteins had declined 11pc, and in the last quarter, down 9pc.
“Everything says plant-based has reached its level, and the level is really, really small. It’s not something we should be concerned about,” Mr Low told the Toowoomba forum.
“And when we look at switching behaviour, consumers are not leaving beef and lamb to go to plant-based options. The people that we are seeing making changes are switching amongst animal proteins – they are not leaving animal protein for plant-based,” he said.
“It’s something that a niche audience that would not normally buy red meat is buying into regularly, or people who have swapped-out a meal occasion to try plant-based alternatives. And the data and insights tell us they don’t like it that much, and are coming back to meat.”
“In fact in the last consumer survey period, beef saw its first net gain, from plant-based options, ever since plant based foods first launched into the category. We (the red meat industry) don’t need to attack them, because they are already losing ground on their own,” Mr Low said.