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McKinsey Report: Majority of US Consumers Willing to Try Novel Protein Ingredients – vegconomist

McKinsey Report: Majority of US Consumers Willing to Try Novel Protein Ingredients – vegconomist

A report by strategy and management consulting firm McKinsey has found that most US consumers are open to trying food and drinks that contain novel protein ingredients.

The report divides novel proteins into three categories — animal-free products made using precision fermentation, biomass proteins derived from microorganisms, and fungi proteins such as mycoprotein and mycelium. Plant-based proteins were also studied for benchmarking purposes.

The results indicate that 63% of respondents would try animal-free proteins, 56% would try biomass proteins, and 49% would try fungi proteins. Comparatively, 77% are open to plant-based proteins. 28% said they would be more likely to try a novel ingredient if it made the food healthier, and nutritional descriptions such as “good source of protein” were found to be the most compelling messages to put on product packaging.

Environmental messages like “sustainably produced” were also effective, but “vegetarian” and “vegan” were less popular. “Bioengineered” and “next-gen” were also not highly rated, with many respondents not understanding the terms.

© The Protein Brewery

Increasing consumer adoption

Respondents said they were more willing to try novel protein ingredients at breakfast or lunchtime, or as a snack. Among those who were not willing to try novel proteins at all, lack of awareness and questions about production were the biggest factors. Concerns about taste, naturalness, and price also played a role.

Encouragingly, about half of participants said they would be willing to pay more for products containing novel ingredients, and over a fifth would pay four times as much. Willingness to pay was linked more strongly to category than the type of protein used, indicating that new technologies may not necessarily be a barrier to consumption.

The report concludes that increasing consumer awareness of novel proteins — many of which are not yet commercially available — could be a good investment for stakeholders. Additionally, novel proteins will appeal more to consumers if they are healthier than animal-derived foods.

“A thoughtful approach to innovation that prioritizes the end application and channel could increase consumer adoption potential,” says McKinsey. “To increase consumer trial, manufacturers, brands, and food service operators can prioritize launching end products for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Similarly, blending familiar terminology such as “a good source of protein” with emerging language such as “sustainably made” may encourage trial for consumers who care about health and environmental factors.”

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