80% of Americans Prefer Animal-Based Protein, But Demand for Plant-Based Is Growing: CFANS Report

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Four in five (80%) American adult consumers prefer animal-based products (pork, beef, poultry, and fish) for their main sources of protein, according to new data from the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). Even so, 31% said they will eat more plant-based protein over the next five years.

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“As a society, we are becoming increasingly focused on the interconnected health of people, animals, and the planet,” said Pam Ismail, director of the Plant Protein Innovation Center at CFANS. “With that the demand for plant-based protein has grown steadily.”

Unsurprisingly, CFAS found generational differences in attitudes toward protein sources. At 26%, Gen X is the most likely age group to prefer plant-based proteins, while Gen Z is the most willing to pay more for these products (44%).

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Sustainability is a key factor in protein choices. CFANS found that 36% of animal product consumers are concerned about the meat and poultry industry’s environmental impacts. But, moving to plant-based proteins isn’t the only option.

“Consumers continue to demand traditional protein options, but they are clearly signaling an expectation of the animal protein industry to do more to address environmental concerns,” said Mike Schutz, head of the CFAS Department of Animal Science. He and his colleagues are exploring ways to reduce the environmental impact of animal-based proteins, including repurposing food waste for pig diets and improving the health of food-producing animals.