From “Yucky” to “Yummy”: Drivers and Barriers in the Meat Alternatives Market

From “Yucky” to “Yummy”: Drivers and Barriers in the Meat Alternatives Market

Chrysostomos Apostolidis
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7350-0.ch001
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Worldwide, a growing range of meat alternative products are being developed and introduced in the market, taking advantage of the increasing health and environmental concerns, technological advances, and the overall rising profile of meat-free diets. This chapter reviews market research and academic literature to identify the market drivers and barriers that will affect the future of new meat alternative products, from a business, consumer, and policy perspective. Key barriers discussed include lower perceived quality, increasing competition, unrealistic consumer expectations, and ineffective marketing strategies. On the other hand, raising the profile of meat alternatives, technological advances, and increasing interest from consumers, investors, and policymakers can support the market success of meat alternatives. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the way forward and the strategies and interventions that can lead to a stronger position of meat alternatives in the food market.
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During the past decade, market research reports an increasing interest in the development and marketing of new meat alternative products, due to changes in consumer lifestyles and innovative gastronomical developments (Mintel, 2017; Passport, 2016). Currently, policymakers, businesses and research institutes worldwide are working together to support the development, commercialization and wider acceptance of healthier and more sustainable meat alternatives (Passport, 2016). However, as the different actors in the food sector are trying to adapt to the spirit of the times, what are the factors that will enable (or impede) their efforts?

There are several signals that indicate that the meat alternatives market is (now more than ever) primed to come into the mainstream. From the growing health and environmental concerns (Hartmann, Ruby, Schmidt, & Siegrist, 2018; Charlebois, McCormick, & Juhasz, 2016; Van de Kamp, Seves, & Temme, 2018) to the rising profile of alternative high-protein ingredients (Mintel, 2017; Heffernan, 2017), research suggests that there are several reasons for the hike in demand for meat alternatives, particularly in Western markets such as Europe and America. Hence, what started as a small group of vegetarian-focused, meat substitute products with low sensory appeal (yucky), may now have the chance to become a mainstream market of their own, creating opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to improve their bottom line, while contributing to the improvement of consumers’ diets and the sustainability of the food sector (yummy).

This chapter is based on a review of the literature published in academic journals, marketing reports and public media relating to the development, marketing and consumption of meat alternatives. Although the subject is too vast to address in one book chapter, by using information from academic literature to explain findings of recent market research this chapter summarizes and explains some of the key trends, drivers and barriers in the meat alternatives market, including:

  • Perceived quality and consumer expectations of meat alternatives;

  • Increasing concerns over public health and environmental sustainability;

  • Stronger presence of meat alternatives in the food market, and;

  • Technological advances.

By presenting this information, the chapter contributes to the main theme of the book as it covers some of the key factors that are expected to influence the new meat alternatives market, and the associated opportunities and challenges that the sector may face in the future.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flexitarian: The term flexitarian is used to describe consumers who are intentionally reducing their meat consumption for health, environmental, or ethical reasons, without completely rejecting meat from their diets.

Big Data: Large and complex datasets that require advanced data processing technology in order to be analyzed.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The term artificial intelligence refers to all kind of intelligence demonstrated by machines, mimicking human cognitive functions of learning and problem solving.

Cultured Meat: (also known as “clean meat”) Meat grown in the laboratory from in vitro animal cells, instead of slaughtered animals.

Perceived Quality: Consumers’ subjective estimations of how well a product can fulfil their requirements.

New Meat Alternatives: Although newness is a subjective term, the new meat alternatives refer to the products that are currently under development or have entered the market during the past decade.

Consumer Expectations: Consumers’ preconceived ideas or perceptions regarding a product.

3D Food Printing: Printing three-dimensional food products layer-by-layer using edible ingredients.

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