Are Soaring Food Costs Leading Families To Choose More Plant-Based Foods?

If you've been following the news lately, it should be no surprise that the American people report inflation as their top concern right now (via Pew Research Center). Gas prices have reached record highs, says The Washington Post, which have had a downstream effect on prices across different sectors. One of those is food prices. With food and gas being fundamental staples of the average consumer's budget, many have had to make lifestyle adjustments to stay afloat. According to Morning Consult, people are not only dining out less, but they're also cutting back on meat consumption. This brings on a question: Are people choosing more plant-based meat alternatives?

Though plant-based meat alternatives are on the rise — with demand for meatless beef, chicken, and other products outpacing supply — it's unclear exactly how inflation will impact the plant-based industry. It also remains to be seen whether people's current eating habits will persist once inflation has died down. Here's what the situation looks like so far.

People aren't necessarily buying more plant-based meat

Morning Consult thoroughly broke down consumer behaviors now that inflation is reaching record levels. According to the report, 72% of consumers in the U.S. revealed that they have intentionally adjusted their eating and drinking habits because of rising food and beverage costs. Unsurprisingly, respondents who make less than $50,000 a year and support dependents more commonly reported adjusting their eating habits. Overall, 72% reported buying less meat.

According to Bloomberg, while it is true that people are cutting back on meats like beef and pork due to rising costs, it isn't the case that people are opting for more plant-based alternatives. Instead, they are choosing cheaper meats (like chicken) because meat alternatives tend to be more expensive than animal meats. A recent Vox article discusses that though a diet low in meat and dairy can save money, replacing these sources with expensive plant-based meat does not. Despite the inexpensive ingredients that typically make up plant-based meats, the fact that they don't get the same level of government support as animal products has kept prices high. However, since producers of plant-based meats hope to set prices that compete with those of conventional meats, it is possible we could one day see a surge meat-eaters opting for meatless proteins for a price break.