FMCG Gurus points out the potential for plant-based fish

The research firm's insights reveal that calling out the right health benefits is key to helping the category take off.

While its profile is considerably below that of plant-based chicken and beef, fish is actually the third most appealing protein among consumers who eat meat substitutes – ahead of turkey, lamb and other seafood.

FMCG Gurus’ latest report derived from feedback from 2,000 North American consumers (including Canada), found that chicken is the meat substitute that respondents find the most appealing (71%). That’s followed by beef (69%), fish (53%), pork (52%), turkey (52%), lamb/veal (41%), shrimp (31%), crab (28%) and oysters (24%).

According to its numbers, there are 6% more flexitarians than when the pandemic started, 2% more vegetarians, 1% more vegans and 9% fewer consumers regularly eating meat and dairy. And the percentage of people consuming meat substitutes is up to 32% from 20% pre-pandemic. And this includes high demand for not just meat alternatives, but also fish.

While the meat and fish alternative market is booming, FMCG Gurus’ report points out that no fortified plant-based fish alternatives have been introduced as of yet, and represents an opportunity for plant-based seafood.

Plant-based alternatives typically contain lower native levels of key vitamins and minerals, which pushes 60% of consumers to seek added nutrition in future food choices. In plant based salmon alternatives, for example, fortification poses a big opportunity: fortified, a vegan salmon patty is as nutritious as traditional fish with omega-3 and micronutrients.

FMCG Gurus also recommends engaging consumers with a range of omega-3 “front of pack” claims. For flexitarians in particular, that is a very sought out ingredient: 70% of consumers make efforts to track down products that contain omega 3.

This can help to fill the nutritional gaps in vegan diets, and brands can make the food a good or excellent source of those nutrients allowing them to make nutrition and health claims in various countries.

Transparency over product formulation is a must, however. FMCG Gurus warns that fortification cannot be seen to compromise taste and enjoyment, and that streamlined ingredient lists and free-from claims appeal is still key.

And naturally, tasking like the real thing is table stakes: 86% of consumers who eat meat substitutes say it is important products taste like real meat.

Finally, the report notes that while the concept of cultured, “lab-grown” meat is in its infancy and that further education is required, nearly as many consumers in North America are willing to trial cultured fish (14%) as they are cultured meat (15%).