When you look an alternative-meat manufacturer stock price dropping to $10 on May 16 from nearly $235 in July 2019, it’s tempting to say that meat eaters can't be moved away from eating animal-based burgers and sausage. The challenge for the natural products industry, however, might be more about what those meat eaters are looking for—and how to serve it responsibly.
In new research from New Hope Network's NEXT Data & Insights team, we learn that not all consumers are looking closely at how their meat and poultry is produced, but the ones who do are keying in on certain key attributes. For starters, only 43% of natural channel consumers say they pay attention while grocery shopping to how their meat and poultry is produced. The number for all shoppers was remarkably lower at 27%. But when asked what attributes they care about, the percentages are more encouraging.
Incremental steps still lead somewhere.
Bigger steps made more quickly are more difficult. It's possible the alternative-meat movement moved too quickly for the market, as the stock collapse noted above suggests. Much of that, undoubtedly, comes down to irrational investor exuberance and some backlash when questions emerged about how healthy the products are. The Washington Post Editorial Board on May 12 labeled meat alternatives a fad and expounded on why that fad has "sizzled out."
The question for the natural products industry might not be whether The Washington Post is wrong, but rather, what the industry should be doing to draw more consumers along that path toward more responsible meat, whether it's real or alternative.
A path, we can assume, that is paved in incremental steps.