Climate change driving diet change - 37% of Aussies now reducing meat consumption

11 Nov 2020

New research from PLAY Market Research (PLAY MR) shows that 37% of Australians are actively reducing their meat consumption, while 10% are dedicated vegan or vegetarian. The research proves there is a significant group of Australians that are deliberately reducing their meat consumption, with reducing their environmental footprint the key driver.

Changing Australian diets

PLAY MR's Shopper Panel has found that Australians are moving away from the traditional 'meat & 3 veg' diet. It found the following diet associations across Australia:

Diet choice    %
Vegan    3%
Vegetarian    7%
Pescatarian    2%
Flexitarian    25%
Mainly meat with occasional veg meals    39%
Mainly meat with no vegetarian meals    24%

Troy Kohut, CEO of PLAY MR, said that "Most vegan and vegetarian consumers started eating this way only 6-12 months ago, while those eating mainly meat have been eating this way for 5+ years (or probably their entire lifetimes!). This is a new way of living for many Australians".

Environment leading the diet changing charge

"Our panel found that the top driver for making vegan diet choices is eating in a more environmentally friendly way" says Kohut. "You would expect this to increase as concerns about climate change continue to grow".

The research found the following reasons for Australians to make vegan choices:

Reason for choosing vegan    %
Environmental friendlier    48%
Have a healthier lifestyle    40%
To protect animals    36%
To prevent lifestyle diseases    35%
Weight loss    26%


Trends in the vegan food market

The research identified a number of trends in the plant-based food market.

#1. Vegan credentials aren't the only driver anymore - dialling up flavour and benefits are also crucial

PLAY MR: "Manufacturers are not just selling to vegans anymore. Products labels must appeal to a wider market and marketing should focus on taste environmental benefits."

#2 See ya soy - premium, plant-based ingredients have entered the building

PLAY MR: "The vegan market has certainly expanded beyond tofu and soy milk, driven by consumers who are looking for health benefits alongside their eco-friendly choices. With peas, lentils, cauliflower and nut-based products becoming more of a common feature, the health benefits and taste benefits continue to stack up. Innovation in food manufacturing has soared and Aussie producers must aggressively compete with global food brands."

#3. Supermarkets see opportunity - private labels disrupting plant-based brands

PLAY MR: "Coles and Woolworths are taking this trend seriously. The giant supermarkets are using the high consumer trust in private label brands to drive sales in the growing plant-based food segment. Coles & Woolworths can give private label brands shelf space, including alongside non-vegan products."

Recommendations for food manufacturers

The research provided a number of recommendations for Australian food manufacturers to take advantage of the growing number of Australians who are reducing their meat consumption.

  1. If your brand already has vegan credentials, dial them up in store, online and in your marketing messaging.
  2. If you have a brand that can stretch into a plant-based or vegan direction, consider if this is an opportunity to connect with another audience.
  3. Identify partner opportunities, find a partner brand that can or is moving in the vegan direction and become the supplier.
  4. Otherwise, invest in research with your current audience. Are they considering a new lifestyle or food-style? Where do they get plant-based inspirations? You might be able to identify some new opportunities.

PLAY MR is a consumer research and insights-led innovation company that works with many kinds of businesses, from small to large, food to phones, retailers to credit cards. They help companies create products and services that excite and delight their customers.

Vegan Australia is an animal rights organisation that campaigns nationally for veganism. 
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