New research from global market-intelligence agency Mintel reveals that two in five urban Indonesians (39 per cent) and one in three urban Thais (34 per cent) consumed more non-animal sources of protein (eggplant, dairy, grains) in 2017 compared to the previous year.
The trend has also infiltrated meat-loving Australia, where 16 per cent of urban residents said they avoided or intended to avoid red meat in 2017 and one in five (19 per cent) consumed more non-animal sources of protein.
Of those who avoided or planned to avoid red meat, half said they believed it would be healthier for them.
“Traditional agriculture is unable to meet the protein needs of the world,” said Michelle Teodoro, Mintel’s global food science and nutrition analyst. “The current levels of demand for meat supplies globally, and the relative growth of meat production on this scale will have a significant, negative impact on the environment.
“At the same time, more and more consumers are moving away from meat and looking towards alternative sources of protein, offering some relief and creating new opportunities in the global consumer marketplace.
“Pressure on the natural environment is forcing consumers and companies to rethink what they take and make,” Teodoro said. “Meanwhile, new technologies are redefining how we create and use food and drink. While developments that engineer rather than harvest food and drink staples, such as laboratory-grown meat, have grabbed headlines, the resulting products are still years away from mass commercial availability. This showcases the potential for more innovative, sustainable and alternative protein sources.
“The world is changing and food scientists have a big role to play in the future of food. Companies and brands should be looking across industries for inspiration and opportunities for collaboration with scientists and food engineers.”
Mintel research shows that one in four urban Indonesians planned to follow a plant-based/vegetarian diet in 2017, while 61 per cent of urban Thais and over half of urban Australians planned to eat more vegetables and fruit.
Furthermore, nutritious or health-related reasons (56 per cent) are the top factor influencing urban Thai consumers when choosing food or drink products to buy.
“With high animal protein intake associated with health concerns, any reduction in consumption will have positive health outcomes. Today’s consumers are also starting to include more vegetables and fruits in their diets, or adopting plant-based or vegetarian diets, given the numerous health benefits that come along with them. Along with a shift to plant and lab-based proteins, the world’s reliance on factory-farmed animals will also be reduced – contributing to animal welfare globally,” Teodoro said.
This is all reflected in “Mintel Trend: Hungry Planet”, which discusses how consumer purchasing decisions are being influenced by issues surrounding sustainability and ethics, and in “Mintel Trend: Bannedwagon”, which details how consumers are focusing on ingredients and production methods, embracing once-niche ways of living and eating.
“Moving forward, we will see aspects of environmentalism penetrate various lifestyle goals,” said Delon Wang, trends manager for Asia-Pacific at Mintel.
“With the mantra ‘you are what you eat’ top of the mind today, consumers are assessing their lifestyle, everyday purchases and surroundings. Additionally, the idea of inclusivity and accepting niche lifestyles of global consumers has popularised, to a certain extent. We are seeing more understanding about unique diets and living habits, creating new guidelines to live as the benefits are exhorted.”