Faced with the climate crisis, more and more French men and women are choosing to reduce the proportion of meat in their diet. A recent study by Kantar shows that almost half of households have at least one ‘flexitarian’. This share has almost doubled in six years. But as the French population adopts new eating habits, there remains a certain reluctance to consume plant-based meat substitutes. explanation.
Is the land of rib steak and veal blanquette done with meat? Not quite, but it seems that the population is slowly turning away from a meat diet. A new study by Kantar World Panel reports that 49% of French households have at least one “flexitarian”, who wants to reduce their consumption of animal proteins (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products) in favor of a more plant-based diet. This figure has risen sharply since it was just 25% six years ago, The HuffPost reports.
This trend is also accompanied by increased awareness of vegan alternatives to animal products. According to the Kantar study, more than seven French households say: “discover the alternative vegetable offers” and 16% of the French population already buys imitation meat products at least once a year. Sales of these products increased by 16% between November 2020 and November 2021. This booming market represented 105 million euros for the same period.
Alternatives to meat, a market “still under construction”
In recent years, more and more brands that offer plant-based alternatives to meat have appeared on supermarket shelves. Among them, Herta’s “Le Bon Végétal” is the leader and today represents 54% of the “vegetable caterer” market. Distributors have also developed their brands to offer vegan or vegetarian products, rich in vegetable proteins, to meet the new demands of consumers. Finally, young shoots such as the French brands Happyvore or La Vie compete in ingenuity with their imitation meat and 100% vegan food.
“It is a market that is still under construction”, Nicolas Dhers, project director of the food transition at Carrefour, confides to Agence France Presse. The group has also created its own private label for meatless foods. “We try to have products that are both affordable and good. Taste is the key to this market”he says.
And for good reason, despite the ecological aspect of these products, which are also part of animal welfare defenses, they are still shunned by some French households. According to the Kantar study, the intention to buy these alternatives remains low (less than 15%) for several reasons. For 42% of the unwilling people surveyed, the flavor they don’t like or ‘think’ they don’t like is the first argument. Next comes texture at 32% and price at 27%.
Ultra-processed products in the spotlight
In addition, 28% of respondents believe these foods are made with “unnatural ingredients, additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers”† Magazines 60 million consumers and What to choose? had also pointed to this aspect of certain alternative meat products, highlighting the health risks posed by the misuse of ultra-processed products, reports The HuffPost†
To continue to grow, “simulated meat offers must evolve” in terms of taste, but also towards “less processing” and a more affordable price, summarizes Lydia Rabine, consumer trends expert at Kantar.
French women and men seem poised to cut their meat consumption, but they have yet to be convinced of adopting meat-like alternatives.