There's widespread consumer confusion regarding the ingredient composition and purported benefits of plant-based fake meat products, according to a National Cattlemen's Beef Association online survey of more than 1,800 consumers.
Among the findings:
- Less than half of the respondents understood the labeling term “plant-based beef” was intended to describe an entirely vegetarian or vegan food product.
- About one third of surveyed consumers believed that plant-based fake meat products contained at least some real beef in them.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents believed the fake meat products produced by Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and LightLife contained real beef or some form of animal byproduct.
- 32% of consumers who were shown a package of Beyond Meat’s “Beyond Burger” plant-based patties told researchers that they thought the patties contained at least small amounts of real meat. It does not contain any real beef.
- 37% of consumers who were shown a package of Lightlife’s “Gimme Lean” said the product contained at least some real beef. It does not contain any real beef.
- 44% of consumers believed plant-based products were lower in sodium, when leading plant-based fake beef is anywhere between 220% to 620% higher in sodium than the same size serving of real ground beef.
- Only 24% of respondents correctly identified beef as being lower in sodium.
- 34% of respondents believed plant-based fake meat to be less processed and another 34% percent believed fake and real beef products were equivalent on the food processing scale.
- On the broad category of healthfulness, more than half of consumers believed plant-based meat was better.
“This research is a wake-up call for our industry, the news media, and for federal regulators,” said National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Jennifer Houston. "We in the beef industry need to do a better job educating consumers about the fact that beef is a nutrient-rich source of high-quality protein and essential nutrients that can play a key role in any healthy lifestyle."