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Consumers confused about what's in plant-based meat

NCBA leader says survey is 'wake-up call' for beef industry.

February 10, 2020

2 Min Read

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.

NCBA survey

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.

Less than half of consumers understand that plant-based beef is entirely vegan

“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."

beef excels when it comes to price, protein and minimal ingredients

Source: National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

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