Key consumer insights on plant-based seafood
Plant-based seafood is attracting a lot of consumer attention.
This fact is particularly striking in Asia and the US, according to the surveys conducted by GFI*
62% of US consumers are familiar with plant-based seafood,
while in Asia, the percentage rises up to 65%
Consumers in these parts of the world are not just familiar with it, but they also show high interest in plant-based seafood:
Knowing that consumers are ready to purchase these products, it’s time to look at the main drivers to do so.
Key drivers to plant-based seafood
First things first: taste is the most important factor for consumers. Brands need to try mimicking the flavour wild/farmed fish have. Consumers don’t want to make sacrifices when it comes to taste. So that’s why this should be the brands’ main focus.
Once the flavour is achieved, brands need to pay attention to the following key drivers for consumers.
As with the rest of plant-based foods, environmental concerns play a big role in making consumers purchase plant-based seafood.
Take a look at the environmental factors that have the most influence on the purchase of plant-based seafood according to US and Asian consumers:
Consumers are more educated than ever and are aware of the consequences of eating fish, and that’s why they seek brands and products that mirror their ethics and beliefs. Plant-based products are heavily associated with being environmentally friendly, so brands can look to capitalise on this by actively addressing social issues deemed important to consumers.
Storytelling could play a big role when addressing the environmental benefits that plant-based seafood has compared to wild/farmed fish. We will see a practical example below.
81% of global consumers who eat meat alternatives do so because they are healthier.
And when it comes to fish, these are the most important health factors for consumers in the US and Asia:
No mercury is the most important factor due to the growing concern about ingesting metals such as this one from fish consumption.
Claims on “high in protein” and “rich in omega-3” are also very important. Consumers fear missing out on vital nutrients; thus, fortification, which works amazingly with flexitarians, answers these consumers' concerns.
As previously stated: flavour, flavour, and more flavour. Check this graph.
Once taste and texture are achieved, consumers will find it easier to become familiar with and accept plant-based fish. Hence, the focus for food producers shall be first on flavour and texture and then appealing to the health and environmental drivers described.
Extra Tip For Food Producers
Taste, no mercury, saving ocean habitats…these are the main key drivers; however, what are the most desired seafood alternatives?
Here’s what Asian consumers have to say:
47% of Asian consumers desire plant-based shrimp/prawns
42% of Asian consumers desire plant-based salmon
44% of Asian consumers desire plant-based crab
41% of Asian consumers desire plant-based tuna
And on top of that, 57% of Asian consumers eat seafood fried and 43% raw.
Companies who take advantage of this data when developing their products have a great opportunity to tap into this market by offering these plant-based alternatives in this form.
Now let’s look at the main barriers consumers face when purchasing plant-based seafood.
Main Barriers To Plant-Based Seafood
As we will see right now, the trend continues: Taste and texture are the protagonists. However, there are some interesting factors to also take into account.
Besides taste and texture, the main barriers are freshness and naturalness.
Freshness cannot be achieved in plant-based seafood. However, this barrier could be compensated by using 100% natural ingredients to give a sense that the product is not artificial, and it would also tackle the naturalness barrier. So, to add extra value to the product, companies should try to focus on giving consumers natural ingredients claims.
Practical Example: Onami Foods
In our practical example section from today’s newsletter, we will talk about how Onami Foods puts all these consumer insights into practice.
First, Onami Foods addresses the most important consumer demands on their webpage:
“Elegantly textured and deliciously flavoured, our products are made of natural ingredients that will win over the taste buds of vegans and flexitarians alike. Taste the delights of Onami Foods and help protect our oceans!”
Texture and flavour: ✅
Natural Ingredients: ✅
Saving our oceans: ✅
Aiming at flexitarians & vegans: ✅
That's a great start. Let’s see how they delve into these consumer demands and concerns.
Their packaging is full of claims about health, sustainability, and natural ingredients:
They let the consumer know their products are environmentally friendly, natural, healthy and, of course, vegan, therefore satisfying the top consumer demands.
They are also very clear with the ingredients they use, which is something that helps gain consumer trust:
Last but not least, they communicate how their products help make a better world. Remember what we said about storytelling and how consumers seek brands and products that mirror their ethics and beliefs.
Onami Foods is a brand that knows how to appeal to consumers and it is clear that its consumer communication model works.
So vegan brands should consider following this example to increase their chances of winning over consumers.
Now it’s your turn
We really hope you enjoyed our new consumer insights backgrounder. If you want to learn more about this topic, VLabel has a whitepaper on the key innovations and market numbers of plant-based fish.
Editors note: This is a good backgrounder enabling those currently in the plant-based fish market-place or in the development phase. Of special interest we hope to Australian and New Zealand companies wishing to enter the plant-based seafood domain.
All graphics and Onami images courtesy of VLabel