Younger people are showing more interest in cutting back on meat consumption, according to the results of a new survey.

In May 2019, British advertising and marketing data firm Attest Technologies Ltd. published a report reflecting the results of a survey it conducted of 1,000 nationally representative, working-age consumers in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The survey asked them about lifestyle trends: conscious consumption, physical and mental wellbeing, reliance on digital, escapism and challenging societal norms.

Meat consumption trends

People around the world are showing more interest in doing whatever they can to reduce their environmental impact and make more sustainable choices for the planet. One way that’s picked up steam in recent years – despite its flimsy scientific evidence – is reducing meat consumption.

A quarter of U.S. consumers and nearly half of U.K. consumers answered yes when asked if they have “cut down my consumption of meat or plan to do so.”

The report said 49% of the respondents in the millennial age group in the U.K. answered yes to the same question. Additionally, 29% of the respondents in the Baby Boomer age group in the U.S. said yes, too.

In the same vein, the report also asked about adoption of vegetarianism and veganism. In the U.S., 7% identified as either vegetarian or vegan. In the U.K., that number rose to 17%.

In the U.S., the report said members of the Generation Z age group are most likely to identify as vegan or vegetarian, with 15% of that group responding affirmatively to the question “I am a vegetarian/vegan.” As for the U.K., 25% of the respondents in the millennial demographic said they were vegan or vegetarian.

Following in that trend, more people are willing to try a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle in the U.K. (20%) than in the U.S. (8%). When breaking it down by age group, 8.5% of the millennial and 14% of the Generation Z demographic in the U.S. said they were planning on trying veganism or vegetarianism. In the U.K. 34.5% and 25%, respectively, of the same demographics said they are planning on making the switch.

Plastic

Another key point worth observing is the changing consumer attitude toward plastic packaging. Growing awareness of plastic’s impacts on the oceans and other biomes is pushing people away from using the ubiquitous packaging product.

When asked if “I am consciously trying to reduce my use of single-use plastic” 81% of respondents in the U.K. and 58% of respondents in the U.S. said yes.

Impacts for the industry

Upon reviewing this data, I made two observations.

First, the poultry industry needs to continue to make a point about its sustainability compared with other animal proteins. Poultry is healthy, low-cost and high-protein food with a relatively low environmental impact. That should be a key selling point for consumers young and old.

Second, the industry – along with others in consumer packaged goods – needs to take a hard look at its use of plastic in food packaging. The material is versatile, functional, available and used in every segment where meat is sold. Nevertheless, the customer is always right. If shoppers aren’t going to buy chicken or turkey because of how it is packaged, or if they are going to buy less, because plastic packaging is perceived as a serious pollutant, the industry will need to change in order to stay relevant.

Get more consumer insights at the 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit

Find out how channels, choices and challengers influence consumers’ chicken purchasing behavior at the 2019 edition of Chicken Marketing Summit scheduled for July 21-23 at the Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston, South Carolina. Registration is now open.