Insights into the comparative experience of plant-based meat and conventional meat products in India

Overview

Taste is the primary driver for the consumption of meat in India. Consumers of meat products seek a multi-sensory experience encompassing aroma, texture, juiciness, and flavour. The Indian alternative protein market is brimming with new products and offerings designed to cater to consumer preferences. Plant-based meat options in the market range from Western formats like patties, sausages, and nuggets to Indian formats like kebabs, biryani, pulao, parathas, etc., promising to offer similar taste and sensory experiences as their traditional meat counterparts. However, early adopters of this category seek improvements across different taste and texture parameters, before fully embracing plant-based alternatives.

Key insights from the report

  1. The evaluation of plant-based meat products like kebabs, nuggets, samosa, and keema against their animal-derived counterparts showed that the products have come a long way in terms of sensorial experience.
  2. The packaging of plant-based meat products was found to be premium, modern, and attractive by consumers. In most cases, it was rated superior to the packaging offered by traditional meat products.
  3. Most plant-based meat products looked similar to animal-derived products in terms of colour, size, texture, and appearance. However, the quantity provided for plant-based meat was rated low compared to animal-derived meat.
  4. The sensory experience offered by plant-based meat products was rated very close to their animal-derived counterparts. Some of the key attributes by which consumers could differentiate plant-based from animal-derived products were:
    • The texture of some of the products was associated more with soy than meat, or was considered either too soft or too hard.
    • The juiciness of plant-based meat changed depending on the cooking method and amount of time cooked and was generally rated lower compared to animal-derived meat.
    • Some consumers also highlighted that they were not adequately satisfied with the lack of meatiness in plant-based meat products.
  5. The ratio of quantity to price led consumers to rate plant-based meat products poorly on affordability and value for money.
  6. In cases where the taste and price equation was closer to animal-derived meat products, consumers were willing to switch to plant-based products, showcasing the potential of the category as it progresses on the journey of achieving taste and price parity.

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