Multicultural Audiences Increasingly Seek Plant-Based Food

A study found that more than 60% are open to alternatives to support healthy lifestyles.

December 09, 2021

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. and BROOMFIELD, Colo.—A new study from Danone North America found that plant-based eating is on the rise among multicultural audiences, especially the younger millennial and Gen Z populations.

"Plant-based eating has the potential to be a real beacon of healthy living, especially for diverse communities,” said John Starkey, president of plant-based food and beverage for Danone North America. “There is still a lot of work to be done in understanding how different communities are experiencing plant-based food and beverages and how we can do more to engage and appeal to multicultural consumers.”

Danone, the maker of plant-based brands Silk and So Delicious, found that multicultural audiences are more willing than the total population to add plant-based foods into their diets as a substitution for animal products, with younger millennials and Gen Z consumers leading the charge. Seventy-one percent of Asian Americans, 55% of Black/African Americans and 61% of Hispanic/Latino respondents say they "strongly" or "somewhat agree" that they are open to substituting the current foods they eat with plant-based alternatives compared to less than half of total population respondents (49%).

The study found that while multicultural audiences are making up an increasing share of the plant-based market, overall, they feel less represented and less engaged by plant-based food brands. More than half of respondents (55%) say their community and culture are "not that well" or "not at all" represented by plant-based food companies and brands including 58% of Hispanic/Latino, 52% of Asian Americans and 60% Black/ African American respondents. The numbers are higher among the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations within these communities.

More than half of Hispanic/Latino (56%) and Black/African American (51%) respondents "strongly" or "somewhat agree" there is a stigma in their culture around people who eat plant-based foods.

Multicultural respondents feel some healthier or more nutritious foods are less attainable due to barriers of affordability and accessibility. Forty-eight percent of Asian Americans, 42% of Hispanic/Latino and 40% Black/African Americans also say they see plant-based foods as more expensive.

Sustainability is important to multicultural communities. Nearly three quarters of multicultural respondents (73%) say they “strongly or somewhat agree” that they try to be environmentally friendly with their food choices; however, they sometimes don't have the information they need.

Plant-based and alternative protein trends are not exiting the food scene anytime soon. In some ways, they’re just getting started. Forbes lists 11 plant-based and alternative trends that were significant developments in 2021 and what the magazine expects to see more of 2022. NACS Magazine explored how meatless options, including meat, dairy and snack products, are attracting health-focused customers to c-stores.