Kiwis Opting for Meat-Free Days

Majority of shoppers who try plant-based alternatives will buy again in future according to new research.

New Zealand’s meat consumption is on the decline, with only one in five (19%) Kiwis eating meat every day, according to new research by Toluna, a leading consumer intelligence platform. The research which surveyed 766 New Zealanders between 27-30 July 2021, showed that health concerns were the driving factor for a number of dietary decisions, and changing the way consumers shop.

Declining meat consumption 

Of the respondents who ate meat, a third (32%) had made efforts to reduce their meat consumption, with a further 14% planning to reduce their meat consumption in future. Almost half (43%) the meat eaters surveyed aim to have 1-2 meat free days per week, 23% go meat free 3-4 days a week, while 7% choose not to consume meat 5-6 days per week. Only 19% of respondents eat meat every day, with 8% never eating it at all.

Health concerns were the biggest driver for reducing meat consumption (62%), with the high cost of meat (51%) and environmental reasons (29%) also deciding factors. Only 12% of those who have reduced, or plan to reduce, meat consumption have made this decision due to moral reasons.

The majority of shoppers (75%) purchase their meat from major supermarkets, with 11% buying from butchers. A small number (4%) buy their meat from small, independent retailers, with only 1% purchasing their meat products from farmer’s markets.

Plant-based alternatives  

A quarter (25%) of respondents said they had tried plant-based meat alternatives, with over half (57%) stating they will continue to eat them in future. Most respondents (66%) who like plant-based meats believe they’re a healthy alternative. Other reasons respondents enjoy plant-based meat alternatives is because they believe they’re better for the environment (64%), are more ethical (54%), and provide a vegetable boost (31%); while 28% can’t tell the difference between meat-alternatives and real meat.

For those who wouldn’t eat meat alternatives again, it was largely because they thought the plant-based alternatives didn’t have an appealing taste (48%), were too expensive (48%), were too bland (21%), or too rubbery (17%). Their families disliking plant-based meat alternatives (17%) was also a reason for not wanting to try these products in future.

Other food & drink alternatives 

Other food and drink alternatives are proving to be popular, with almost half of respondents having bought almond milk (47%) and coconut milk (49%). Soy milk (45%) and oat milk (25%) were also popular milk alternatives. Non-alcoholic beverages were also on the rise with respondents having also purchased non-alcoholic beers (26%), non-alcoholic wine (15%) and non-alcoholic spirits (10%).

Health a key priority 

Kiwis want to eat better than they currently do. Less than half (41%) of respondents considered their current diet to be ‘very healthy’, but when asked about future aspirations, 74% stated they would like their diet to be ‘very healthy’ in future. Healthy choices being cost prohibitive (49%) was one of the key reasons respondents claimed their diet wasn’t as healthy as they’d like. A lack of self control (45%), snacking (45%), eating late at night (30%) and getting take aways (29%) were also listed as barriers.

For women, being time poor (33%) had a much greater impact on their diet than it did men (25%), as did the lack of self control (51% for women vs. 37% for men). Women were also more likely to prioritise their children over their diet (11% vs. 4% for men) and said their families not enjoying their healthy cooked meals (7% for women vs. zero men) also attributed to their own diets not being as healthy.

Conversely, the fact that healthy alternatives were cost prohibitive was more of an issue for men (53%) than women (47%). Men also claimed the lack of support from others (16% vs. only 11% of women) negatively impacted their diet.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also proven to be a barrier, with 53% of Kiwis stating COVID-19 has impacted their overall health and attitudes to healthy eating.

Across the board, respondents believe processed foods (75%) and refined sugar (70%) are some of the most problematic elements of a typical Western diet, with saturated fats (57%) and excess salt (56%) also a concern. Only 6% of those surveyed didn’t believe there were any issues with the typical Western diet.

Stephen Walker, Regional Director, Toluna, New Zealand said health issues are clearly a top priority for Kiwis and retailers need to take note.

“Our research shows that health concerns are weighing heavily on New Zealanders, with health being the number one driving factor for the majority of our dietary decisions, which ultimately drive our purchasing decisions. Even though a very small number of Kiwis are currently following a vegan diet, a surprisingly large number are actively reducing their meat intake, and are looking to eat plant-based meat alternatives instead.

“New Zealand consumers are wanting to improve their eating habits and are actively seeking out healthy food and drink alternatives across a range of categories. Retailers and brands can capitalise on this trend by ensuring they clearly communicate to consumers the health benefits of their products.”