One in five adults confuse plant-based with real animal products

Posted: 10 January 2024 | | No comments yet

According to a new report, 20 percent of UK consumers have confused plant-based products with animal products due to branding or labelling.

plant based

Many consumers are now choosing to opt for vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian diet, but a new report by Opinium has unearthed that one in five UK consumers have confused plant-based products with real animal products due to branding or labelling.

But it doesn’t stop there. In fact, nearly a third of UK adults admitted that they are less likely to buy plant-based products if they resemble animal-based food, with 49 percent of survey respondents that follow a vegan diet stating they would prefer plant-based foods to differentiate from animal-based products.

Published by Opinium on behalf of UK & Ireland law firm Browne Jacobson, the report was created to support the position that plant-based products should be described using terminology unconnected with other animal products. The survey was carried out during November 2023 and questioned 2000 UK adults.

Additional findings showed that 38 percent of consumers believe plant-based producers should be prohibited from naming plant-based food products after their animals or animal product counterparts.

‘Misleading food labelling and marketing practices can lead to severe consequences for food and drink producers, including regulatory enforcement, forcing producers to undertake a costly re-branding exercise,” said Conor Wileman, Associate at Browne Jacobson.

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“In light of this research, it will be important for businesses producing plant-based food to stay abreast of UK and EU food law developments to ensure their products are compliant with any new regulations and statutory guidance.”

The findings come following controversy in the UK and EU regarding the banning of animal product terms to describe plant-based food. Currently, food producers and food business operators responsible for food labelling must ensure that the labelling and marketing of their products is not misleading. This is to avoid putting companies at risk of incurring fines and legal proceedings.

In addition to the above findings, the report showed that  the way food producers present, label and market plant-based products has an impact on consumers’ purchasing behaviour, with three in ten UK adults stating they are less likely to buy plant-based products if they resemble animal-based food.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Paul Kirkpatrick, Partner and Head of the Manufacturing and Industrials Sector, said the data is a “call to action for the UK Government.

“This research stresses the need for tighter regulation on the branding, labelling and marketing of plant-based products to protect consumers from confusion. We are aware of restrictions or the banning of certain animal product derived terminology in other countries and this research suggests further measures may need to be implemented in the UK,” continued Kirkpatrick.