Illuminate: Animal Protein

More meat eaters believe “It’s all about me”

A growing U.S. consumer segment is putting the “me” in meat, according to CFI’s digital ethnography research on animal protein consumption. The findings reveal consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact of meat consumption on the wellbeing of themselves and their families, as well as their concern about the impact on the environment.

The study, which analyzes millions of consumer interactions online to understand attitudes, motivations, values, fears and maturity of trends, reveals a distinct evolution from 2017 to 2019.

In 2017, only one theme on animal protein consumption emerged strongly – environmentalism, with a focus on societal goals and working toward the greater good of humanity by saving the planet from environmental harm as a result of human consumption.  

Fast forward two years and a new theme emerges alongside environmentalism – that of protection and provision. Consumers are increasingly adding protection of themselves and their families (financially, emotionally and physically) to their existing concern about the environment.   

The addition of protection and provision as a major theme suggests there is a growing trend toward consumers thinking about consuming animal protein from a dietary standpoint for themselves and their families, in addition to thinking about the impact of animal protein on natural resources.

The study also saw that between 2017 and 2019 the term “need meat” moved closer to the term “consume meat,” indicating that more consumers are indicating they need to add meat to their diets for nutritional benefits.

With this evolution toward a “What’s in it for me and my family?” focus, those in the animal protein sector can engage by providing both assurances that eating animal protein products will contribute to a healthy life and sharing ways to incorporate meat and poultry into a balanced diet. Reporting specific practices used by suppliers to ensure ethical production and how they’re protecting the environment is important, too.

To engage consumers whose focus is on the environment, talk about sustainability efforts, innovations that protect and enhance the environment, and progress that has been made in lowering animal agriculture’s environmental footprint.

Providing credible, third-party studies that show the value of animal protein to the human diet would be valuable, too. CFI transparency research shows that consumers value an objective outside party validating that the food system is doing what’s right for people, animals and the planet.