Food & Drink | February 8, 2021 12:17 pm

Survey Finds Consumers Think Beef Tastes Better and Is More Nutritious Than Plant-Based Meat

It is worth noting the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board financed the survey

Survey Finds Consumers Think Beef Tastes Better and Is More Nutritious Than Plant-Based Meat
Raw black angus beef tomahawk steaks with salt and pepper.
Natasha Breen//Universal Images Group via Getty

Though the results are favorable for the meat industry, it’s probably best to take the findings from a recent survey about overall consumer perception of beef with a grain of salt.

Funded by the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board and conducted by researchers from Kansas State University and Purdue, a recent survey of 3,000 adults found that consumers’ perceptions of the taste, appearance and price of beef greatly exceeds that for plant-based meats. Consumers also think beef has more protein and iron than plant-based proteins.

With the majority of respondents also believing that beef consumption is better overall for farmers, consumers, rural communities and food prices, the only area where plant-based meats were perceived to be better was in their impact on the environment.

Likely linked to those feelings, the researchers found consumers choose bovine beef about three times more often than plant-based meat alternatives when purchasing protein. In prior-day meals before the survey, one in six respondents reported eating a plant-based protein item while roughly one-half said they had dined on beef.

Of the regular meat consumers who were surveyed, all said they are much less likely to select a plant-based item when a beef item is available and are willing to fork over $1.87 more at a restaurant for a beef burger meal than a Beyond Meat burger meal. Conversely, vegans and vegetarians who were surveyed said they were willing to pay $1.48 more for a Beyond Meat meal versus a standard beef dinner.

“The overall greatest threat from plant-based protein to the beef industry is small at this time,” the researchers concluded. “However, the main traction the plant-based sector has is it currently appeals to the younger generation that tends to have greater concerns about health (e.g., fat content), environmental concerns, likely to have young children at home, likely to have college education, and has growing income. All aspects associated with more favorable demand for plant-based protein. If plant-based protein price declines and the product is viewed more favorably by consumers in taste and appearance, it could become a stronger substitute for beef. However, that is likely some ways into the future. Finally, although it is worthwhile to track the share of the protein market beef is able to garner, it is even more important to focus on strategies that can grow the overall size of the market and strategies that ultimately improve profitability of beef producers.”