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Brightfield Group: ‘Plant-forward individuals are going to function as ones to create or break the category. And at this time their loyalty is wavering’

The tide has really shifted with this push for increasing numbers of people on earth to transition right into a plant-forward diet,Bethany Gomez, managing director at Brightfield Group, told FoodNavigator-USA.

Thats sort of a concerning trend for the longevity of the category indicating it might be reaching its cap when it comes to just how much penetration it could expect out from the market overall.

Evergi surveyed 5,210 US consumers older than 21 and asked them which plant-based products they purchased during the past 90 days and compared those responses to the prior quarter.

Whats weve seen because of this quarter specifically will be a lot of the plant-based categories down quarter over quarter with regards to overall [reported] consumer adoption usage, and that has been really over the board, said Gomez.

The steepest declines were observed in plant-based creamers, that have been down -25% quarter over quarter when it comes to reported consumer purchases (although SPINS data for the 52 weeks to July 10 shows sales of plant-based creamers were up 25.8% YoY in measured US retail channels), accompanied by plant-based fish alternatives (-17%), plant-based sausages (-17%), plant-based yogurt (-9%), and plant-based cheese (-8%).

In plant-based meat/burgers, consumers reported a -7% decline (-6% for plant-based chicken alternatives).

Areas that saw slight growth included plant-based bacon (+1%) and plant-based frozen meals or bowls (+5%).

Its an extremely pivotal moment for the

To comprehend the shifts in consumer adoption, Evergi viewed the differences between consumer segments, dividing respondents into three types: vegan, vegetarian, and plant-forward (thought as consumers who ensure plants and vegetables certainly are a large section of their diet but additionally eat meat along with other animal products).

Plant-forward dieters (representing a more substantial total addressable market), that are also purchasing meat and milk products, showed the biggest declines in plant-based purchases and greater increases in animal products including red meat and chicken, in accordance with Evergi.

Nearly half (49%) of plant-forward dieters reported consuming more meat products previously 90 days.

Most of them still have confidence in the advantages of a plant-based diet but due to the economic stress that theyre seeing theyre trading right down to cheaper alternatives and theyre much less willing to spend money on plant-based products, said Gomez.

It is a really pivotal moment for the and the ones consumers (plant-forward dieters) will be the people to sort of make or break the category. And at this time their loyalty is wavering.

‘Theyre much less willing to spend money on plant-based products’

Gomez also noted that consumers considered fast adopters to new trends (those that rushed out to use the Impossible Burger at Burger King, for instance) are leaving the plant-based segment in greater numbers.

We have been seeing plenty of those declines result from the previously fast adopters that aren’t as focused on everything natural, and everything plant-based or vegan, she said.

And also if inflation moderates, it could be problematic for the plant-based segment to capture a few of its lost audience and momentum, noted Gomez.

As soon as you settle into those new habits its harder to break them even though more discretionary income becomes available. After the wind happens of the sails of a fresh category it could be hard to obtain that back, she said.

Bright spot with most loyal plant-based consumers

But its not absolutely all doom and gloom, highlighted Gomez, who said that probably the most loyal customers to the plant-based segment remain sticking around.

On the list of trendy enthusiasts, plant-based consumption is in fact up. So those people who are on probably the most leading edge of trends, those individuals are continuing to get plant-based products, she said.

The type of trendy enthusiast consumers, purchases of plant-based meat/burgers are up 6%, plant-based chicken is up 19%, plant-based sausages (+19%), plant-based bacon (+12%), and plant-based cheese (+31%).

‘Curve of disillusionment’

Gomez noted that its vital that you remember you can find peaks and valleys to every major trend or emerging category.

You’ve got a little an all natural fallout from then on peak frenzy happens in whats known as The Curve of Disillusionment, she said.

What were seeing is that flattening of the trend rather than as much new consumers getting into the category and theres some shaking out happening aswell.

Environmental opportunity

As environmental issues weigh more heavily on consumers minds, their food choices can be more sustainably focused creating a chance for plant-based products across categories to shine, noted Gomez.

Wherethey [plant-based categories]still have lots of possibility to shine is within their advantages from an environmental standpoint. Most of the data is showing that those underlying beliefs which were driving visitors to eat plant-based meat in the first place remain holding. They still think that plant-based products tend to be more good for their health insurance and more good for the earth, said Gomez.

There’s still plenty of room for the category should they can recapture a few of that sustainability messaging and positioning.

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