For a year and a half, residents of Russian cities began to eat plant-based meat and milk substitute products 3 times more often (in the “meat” category, the share of consumers increased from 10% to 34%, in the “milk” category - from 9% to 31%) - soy meat, wheat sausages, seitan, milk based on oats, rice, soy, buckwheat, etc. These plant-based alternatives are most sought after by young people and those with high affluence. At the same time, according to residents of Russian cities, the amount of consumed meat and milk of animal origin has practically not changed during the pandemic. These are the results of a study conducted by the Eat Better project together with the NAFI* Analytical Center.
Most residents of Russian cities are aware of the availability of vegetable-based meat and milk substitutes for sale: 95% of respondents are aware of the existence of such alternatives.
During the pandemic, the demand for plant-based meat and milk substitutes has tripled. Every third inhabitant of Russian cities at least once included meat and milk of plant origin in their diet (34% and 31%, respectively, in each category). At the beginning of 2020, these consumption figures were 3 times lower - 10% and 9%, respectively. At the same time, the majority still prefer traditional meat and dairy products (more than 90% in each category).
Young people are active consumers of plant-based meat and milk substitute products. Half of young people under the age of 34 living in cities eat plant-based alternatives to meat and milk.
The majority of residents of Russian cities are ready to include plant-based substitute products in their diet if they bring health benefits (56%). Consumers also value the natural taste (49%) and the lower price (33%) of the product compared to traditional products. At the same time, the price of vegetable analogues remains quite high on average in the market, therefore, in general, people with high incomes most often purchase such vegetable products as meat and milk substitutes.
The attractiveness of a particular vegetable substitute is largely determined by the designation on the package and its wide representation in stores. The most preferred labeling option for residents of Russian cities is “100% plant product” (58% said it was preferred). At the same time, the labels “100% vegan product” and “100% vegetarian product” encourage only 13% of Russians to buy, which is 4 times less than with the label of vegetable origin. The majority felt that such products should be in the plant or healthy food section (47% and 31% respectively), but not on the shelves with the usual animal products.
During the pandemic, the level of consumption of animal products (meat, milk) among the majority of residents of Russian cities has not changed (more than 50% in each category). At the same time, one in four (24%) stated that they began to eat less meat products than a year ago, and one in seven (14%) - less dairy products.
Alexey Ivanov, coordinator of the project "We eat better":
“The growing awareness of plant-based alternatives is largely due to the start of production of such products by large Russian companies. Plant-based milk has become the most popular product over the past 3 years, but attention to plant-based meat has also increased. Thus, in the product lines of at least six meat processing and fat-and-oil companies since the beginning of 2020, a wide variety of alternatives to meat and dairy products has appeared. The price of such products is several times lower than foreign analogues, and it becomes possible to buy them in the nearest supermarkets.
The cooperation of producers with chefs, the use of alternatives in culinary TV shows and advertising, the holding of gastronomic festivals of plant-based meat - all this has also influenced a significant increase in the popularity of plant-based alternatives among Russians.
The study again showed that consumers of plant-based alternatives are not only 1-2% of vegans and vegetarians. A third of Russians who eat meat already buy such products. Therefore, promoting alternatives to a wider audience - including not using the word "vegan" - will lead to an even greater increase in interest in this category of products. In the coming year, we expect new large manufacturers to enter the market for herbal alternatives.”
About the project "We Eat Better":
We Eat Better is a non-profit project to promote plant-based alternatives to animal products. We help manufacturers develop new plant-based products and restaurants introduce delicious plant-based dishes to their menus. Read more: eatingbetter.ru.