Is the ‘plant-based’ claim losing credibility with consumers?

“Given the current growth and ambiguous nature of plant-based claims, plant-based foods are poised to follow a path paved by all-natural claims,”​ said Stephanie Mattucci, associate director, food science at Mintel.

“Consumers associate both all-natural and plant-based with being healthy. Yet, these claims can be problematic as they are notoriously difficult to define. A combination of ambiguity, over saturation, and lawsuits contributed to a shift away from all-natural claims, and plant-based must be careful to avoid the same. However, brands can learn from the evolution of all-natural claims to keep plant-based claims relevant to US consumers.”

Plant-based losing credibility?

Currently, many US consumers do perceive plant-based products as natural and healthy compared to a benchmark of all food and drink products, according to Mintel Purchase Intelligence data.

This finding is especially notable, said Mattucci, as only 9% of plant-based products also use the term all-natural.

“Like all-natural claims before them, plant-based claims have proliferated into a range of categories, which could threaten their credibility,”​ said Mattucci citing the popular Impossible Burger as one such example, which has similar levels of saturated fat, higher sodium, and less protein per serving than traditional ground beef resulting in a number of media reports questioning the true healthfulness of the plant-based meat alternative.

“This backlash could negatively impact consumers’ perception of plant-based claims, leaving them to question their value,”​ said Mattucci.

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