Environmental protection and health are the reasons why flexitarians mainly choose plant-based foods.

According to research conducted by Kerry, flexitarians—the main consumer group driving the growth of plant-based foods—are more picky about their products than vegetarians.

The survey shares key buying drivers specific to the U.S., U.K., Australia and Brazil markets, revealing consumer demand for plant-based burgers that go beyond just tasting delicious.

The taste and nutrition company researched more than 1,500 consumers to reveal sensory expectations for plant-based burgers and cheeses.

Fiona Sweeney, Director of Strategic Marketing at Kerry, said:

Ensuring a great taste experience – a complete sensory experience that includes sight, sound and texture – is very complex, and in plant-based foods it is inherently more challenging because it challenges meat and dairy products Flexitarian consumers, the main consumer group driving the growth of the global plant-based food category, are actively trying to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy products. However, as they still eat meat and dairy products, their appetite for plant-based alternatives is increasing Taste expectations are driven by these experiences. Overall, our research found that flexitarians are more choosy about plant-based products currently on the market.”

Getting the Most Out of Plant-Based Burgers

Ensuring a great taste experience requires a complete sensory experience involving sight, sound, and texture. The research uncovers key market drivers, as well as attributes consumers seek when purchasing plant-based burgers.

Kerry’s research found that 60% of UK consumers started eating plant-based products for “health reasons”; 76% of consumers would buy plant-based burgers that tasted “charcoal grilled”.

At the same time, 63% of U.S. consumers started eating plant-based products for “environmental reasons”; 80% of U.S. consumers chose to buy plant-based burgers labeled “rich and delicious.”

In Australia, 51% of consumers choose to keep buying plant-based products for “environmental reasons”, and 78% want caramelization and browning in their culinary plant-based burgers.

In Brazil, 67% of consumers buy plant-based burgers because they want to “improve their or their family’s overall health.”

Taste still points

While beef-like taste remains the primary benchmark, the Kerry study notes that consumer expectations for plant-based burgers go beyond the flavor experience—“consumers want the juiciness and ‘mouthfeel’ of the product to be as close to meat as possible.”

They also sought manifestations of culinary techniques, such as charring, which indicates that the hamburger meat is fully cooked and safe to eat, as well as nutritionally fortified meat substitutes.