So far, alternative proteins have ridden a wave of good press and curiosity to command a notable market share. But there’s a distinct roadblock alternative proteins will have to clear to continue growing as a category.

People want to know how the (meatless) sausage gets made.

According to recent research, nearly half of consumers want to understand more about how alternative proteins are created before consistently including them as replacements for traditional meat in their diet. It’s one of the most insightful findings that emerged from an online survey on alternative proteins developed cooperatively between C.O.nxt and Menu Matters.

43.1% want total ingredient transparency before committing to alt proteins

Nearly all consumers are willing to try animal protein replacements. But they are cautious about committing to the category until there’s more transparency. This skepticism extends to promised products under development to create meat via lab-grown or cultured methods.

Information opacity creates hesitancy.

This is the path a novel food item to a mainstream staple runs through. Just how are alternative proteins made? Answering that question satisfactorily could be the key for massive consumer growth.

60.4% believe long-term health effects are a significant concern

Both lab-produced options and cell-cultured alternatives are treated with basically equal hesitation. Of consumers surveyed, 47.9% crave greater understanding on the alt protein creation process and 43.1% want total ingredient transparency before committing.

Are they healthier than animal proteins?

As alternatives to meat have become more popular, concern about the long-term health impacts have risen, too. In 2019 just 33.4% were concerned about long-term health effects. Now, 60.4% consider it a significant concern. This is particularly true for boomers.

Nearly half (48.9%) don’t believe alternative proteins will be as healthy as animal proteins.

Opportunity awaits

Overall, there’s enthusiasm in the category to regularly incorporate more alternative proteins. For a variety of reasons, nearly 91% of consumers say they plan to reduce their consumption of animal proteins at least somewhat in the near future.

For this to come to fruition however, companies will have to overcome the confusion that surrounds these products. And while emotional connections will still be critical for any successful brand, a significant percentage of consumers (54.6%) want to understand the science behind the sizzle. Clear communication will be crucial.

C.O.nxt Insight

At C.O.nxt, we’re fully prepared to help companies navigate this new reality. Our team of subject matter experts focuses on food and agriculture—farm field to processing to entrée on a plate. We always have our finger on the pulse of food trends that are shaping the industry. We can help you build a new brand, protect a current one or target the right audiences. Let’s talk when the time is right to handle your next strategic marketing and communications challenge: Marcy Tessmann,