Key consumer insights on plant-based seafood

Consumer Insights

Welcome to our new guide on consumer insights.

In this edition, you will find the most important consumer insights on plant-based seafood, specifically:

  • What consumers want from plant-based seafood
  • Main barriers for consumers
  • A practical example of how to put consumer insights into practice

Now it’s time to share what we discovered.

Key consumer insights on plant-based seafood

Plant-based seafood has caught the eye of consumers.

And this fact is particularly striking in Asia and the US, according to the surveys conducted by GFI*:

  • 62% of US consumers are familiar with plant-based seafood,
  • while in Asia, the percentage rises up to 65%

Consumers in these parts of the world are not just familiar with it, but they also show high interest in plant-based seafood: 

plant-based seafood consumer perception

Knowing that consumers are ready to purchase these products, it’s time to look at the main drivers to do so.

Key drivers to plant-based seafood

First things first: taste is the most important factor for consumers. Brands need to try mimicking the flavor wild/farmed fish have. Consumers don’t want to make sacrifices when it comes to taste. So that’s why this should be the brands’ main focus.

Once the flavor is achieved, brands need to pay attention to the following key drivers for consumers.

Environmental driver

As with the rest of plant-based foods, environmental concerns play a big role in making consumers purchase plant-based seafood.

Take a look at the environmental factors that have the most influence on the purchase of plant-based seafood according to US and Asian consumers:

plant-based seafood environmental drivers

Consumers are more educated than ever and are aware of the consequences of eating fish, and that’s why they seek brands and products that mirror their ethics and beliefs. Plant-based products are heavily associated with being environmentally friendly, so brands can look to capitalize on this by actively addressing social issues deemed important to consumers.

Storytelling could play a big role when addressing the environmental benefits that plant-based seafood has compared to wild/farmed fish. We will see a practical example below.

Quick fact44% of consumers choose vegan diets for animal welfare reasons

Health driver

81% of global consumers who eat meat alternatives do so because they are healthier.

And when it comes to fish, these are the most important health factors for consumers in the US and Asia:

plant-based seafood health drivers

No mercury is the most important factor due to the growing concern about ingesting metals such as this one from fish consumption.

Claims on “high in protein” and “rich in omega-3” are also very important. Consumers fear missing out on vital nutrients; thus, fortification, which works amazingly with flexitarians, answers these consumers’ concerns.

Functionality driver

As previously stated: flavor, flavor, and more flavor. Check this graph.

plant-based seafood functionality drivers

Once taste and texture are achieved, consumers will find it easier to become familiar with and accept plant-based fish. Hence, the focus for food producers shall be first on flavor and texture and then appealing to the health and environmental drivers described.

Quick fact40% of global consumers associate V-Label with better taste.

Extra tip for food producers

Taste, no mercury, saving ocean habitats…these are the main key drivers; however, what are the most desired seafood alternatives?

Here’s what Asian consumers have to say:

  • 47% of Asian consumers desire plant-based shrimp/prawns
  • 42% of Asian consumers desire plant-based salmon
  • 44% of Asian consumers desire plant-based crab
  • 41% of Asian consumers desire plant-based tuna

And on top of that, 57% of Asian consumers eat seafood fried and 43% raw.

Companies who take advantage of this data when developing their products have a great opportunity to tap into this market by offering these plant-based alternatives in this form.

Now let’s look at the main barriers consumers face when purchasing plant-based seafood.

Main barriers to plant-based seafood

As we will see right now, the trend continues: Taste and texture are the protagonists. However, there are some interesting factors to also take into account.

plant-based seafood consumer barriers

Besides taste and texture, the main barriers are freshness and naturalness.

Freshness cannot be achieved in plant-based seafood. However, this barrier could be compensated by using 100% natural ingredients to give a sense that the product is not artificial, and it would also tackle the naturalness barrier. So, to add extra value to the product, companies should try to focus on giving consumers natural ingredients claims.

Quick fact: 74% of global consumers say it is important that food and drink are 100% natural.

Practical example: Onami Foods

In our practical example section from today’s newsletter, we will talk about how Onami Foods puts all these consumer insights into practice.

Onami Foods Products

We have previously reviewed how Heura and Oatly do it with their respective products, but now it’s time to check how Onami does it with their plant-based fish products.

First, Onami Foods addresses the most important consumer demands on their webpage:

“Elegantly textured and deliciously flavoured, our products are made of natural ingredients that will win over the taste buds of vegans and flexitarians alike. Taste the delights of Onami Foods and help protect our oceans!”

Texture and flavor: ✅

Natural Ingredients: ✅

Saving our oceans: ✅

And they also aim at flexitarians and vegans.

That is a great start. Let’s see how they delve into these consumer demands and concerns.

Their packaging is full of claims about health, sustainability, and natural ingredients:

Onami Foods Packaging
Onami Foods Packaging

They let the consumer know that their products are environmentally friendly, natural, healthy and, of course, vegan, therefore satisfying the top consumer demands.

They are also very clear with the ingredients they use, which is something that helps gain consumer trust:

Onami Foods Ingredients

Last but not least, they communicate how their products help make a better world. Remember what we said about storytelling and how consumers seek brands and products that mirror their ethics and beliefs.

Onami Foods Storytelling

Onami Foods is a brand that knows how to appeal to consumers and it is clear that its consumer communication model works.

So vegan brands should consider following this example to increase their chances of winning over consumers.

Now it’s your turn

We really hope you enjoyed our new consumer insights guide.  If you want to learn more about this topic, we have a whitepaper on the key innovations and market numbers of plant-based fish.

And now we’d like to hear from you.

Which consumer insight from today’s guide did you find the most useful?

Let us know by leaving a quick comment below.

See you in the next guide.

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List of Resources

*This data was extracted from FMCG Gurus*

*6.500 consumers from Asia and the US participated in the surveys conducted by GFI between 2020 and 2021*.