Plant-based food label beats vegetarian and vegan

La Trobe University

La Trobe University research published in Appetite yesterday shows a preference for the term plant-based over vegetarian and vegan on food labels.

The research, conducted among US and German consumers, examined the impact of plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian labels on participant appraisals of how healthy, tasty, environmentally friendly, ethical, and pure a range of foods were perceived.

The study included foods that are traditionally fully animal-derived, such as cheese or sausages, and foods that may contain small amounts or no animal-sourced ingredients, such as pasta, chocolate, and cookies.

Lead researcher Dr Matthew Ruby said that both US and German participants showed a preference for foods labelled plant-based, rating them as tastier and purer, and indicating they were more likely to buy them over the same foods labelled vegan or vegetarian.

“While our US participants also believed the plant-based foods were healthier, more ethical, and more environmentally friendly than the other labels, our German participants did not make the same connection,” Dr Ruby said. “This is perhaps because vegetarian and vegan labelling is more widespread in Germany, on both healthier whole food products and heavily processed foods.”

Anticipated taste was the main predictor of how likely participants would be to purchase the food products, but perceptions of how ethical and pure the foods also mattered to consumers. This was the case both for those who carefully read food labels when shopping and those who did not.

This research was conducted following calls for research on how to promote plant-based food products to appeal to larger numbers of consumers and may be used to help plant-based food manufacturers improve their product marketing. Read the report here.

/Public Release.