Study: The battle between animal and plant-based proteins.

Nielsen research says plant-based protein is driving growth in the sector

By David Brown, Canadian Grocer  |  August 11, 2017

Health Canada may be ready to recommend Canadians eat more plant-based proteins rather than animal-based, but it seems Canadians are already doing that.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new consumer report from Nielsen titled Battle of the animal & plant-based proteins: Insights on diet preferences.

“The sale numbers tell the story: even though animal protein reigns in dollar volume, plant-based proteins are driving growth,” writes Isabel Morale, manager, consumer insights.

According to the Nielsen research, animal proteins account for 93% of sales ($22.3 billion) compared to 7% for plant-based ($1.6 billion) but plant-based sales are up 3% compared to a 1% rise for animal.

Unsurprisingly, a desire to improve health and nutrition explain the growth, though Nielsen also attributes the trend to younger and multicultural consumers.

Protein is a core nutritional requirement in human health and recent research out of McGill University suggests we should eat protein three times a day.  According to Nielsen, 51% of consumers have protein at every meal and 21% consistently monitor protein intake.

The consumer research also provides valuable clues about where the protein market could be going. For example, when asked if they plan to consume more, less or the same of different protein sources, 20% of respondents say they plan to consume more fish/seafood and legumes/nuts/seeds. Just 5% say they plan to consume more meat, while 15% say they plan to eat less meat.

In terms of dollar growth, meat sales were down 1% in the last year (thought still the largest total value at $10.2 billion) while legumes/nuts/seeds were up 3% ($800 million).

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