One in four Canadians seek plant-based foods

One in four Canadians seek plant-based foods

Written by: Michelle Broom, President of the OPMA and Dietician  |  Nov 29, 2019


KFC launched a plant-based chicken burger in Toronto this week. There was a line up before they opened and it sold out in just a few hours. While the popularity of this plant-based burger might appear to be a boon for the produce industry, of the 14 ingredients only two were vegetable related (potato starch and onion powder).

This demonstrated that the plant-forward / plant-powered movement will not naturally lead to increased demand for produce. However, there are opportunities for the industry. Consumer insights shared at the recent Plant-Powered Summit for foodservice demonstrated two such opportunities: encouraging flexitarians to choose produce rather than ultra-processed meat alternatives, and the potential for meat-produce blended products.

At the summit, Mintel presented Canadian consumer insights that indicated: 

  • 28% of Canadians are trying to add more plant-based foods into their diet
  • One in three Canadians are reducing or eliminating animal-based products
  • Vegetarians and vegans are still a small percentage of the Canadian population: 5% report being vegetarian, 2% vegan
  • 25% of Canadians report being ‘flexitarian’. They are primarily vegetarian but occasionally eat meat
  • Flexitarians are primarily motivated by health to reduce meat. Vegetarians and vegans are more likely to be motivated for ethical and environmental reasons
  • 61% agree whole plant foods are healthier than the processed meat alternatives (US dataset)

The first opportunity for the produce industry lies with the flexitarians, which remain a significantly higher proportion of the population than vegetarians or vegans. As they are motivated by health to reduce meat consumption, they are unlikely to be the ones in line waiting for KFC plant-based, virtually produce-free chicken. They will more likely be more receptive to the message to make produce the star of your plate.

The other interesting data point was that 48% of Canadians plan to start eating more plant-based alternatives. With so much of the drive coming from flexitarians there is room in this space for meat-vegetable blended foods. These don’t need to be unhealthy products. Pulse Canada presented research that showed a meat-lentil burger had significant nutritional benefits over the meat burger alone.

If we target our messages and our innovations correctly, as an industry we can benefit from this plant-forward trend.

Sources: Mintel / Lightspeed (contact OPMA for full presentation)