Meat-free protein sources: widely known, rarely used, but showing great potential

Dirk Ziems

Meat-free protein sources: widely known, rarely used, but showing great potential

Factory farming and meat consumption are facing a crisis. On the one hand, there were heated debates about how much agriculture contributes to climate change long before this year’s drought period, and the ethical positions of (intensive) animal farming have often caused stirs. Many people believe that extreme diets like veganism on the other hand cannot provide us, and in particular children and adolescents, with all essential nutrients.

New alternative sources of protein are therefore promising meat substitutes that are not only rich in nutrients but also more sustainable. concept m has conducted a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative study on meat-free alternatives.

As a result, the most of the study participants, about 63%, know insect food already. Cultured meat, also known as synthetic or in vitro meat, is still in an experimental phase and not available on the market yet – about 32% of people already know about it nevertheless. About one in five subjects has already heard about the fungus Quorn – a mycoprotein that counts as a vegetarian meat substitute and can be purchased at German supermarkets like Rewe or Lidl.


About a quarter of those who know synthetic meat reject it in general. The rest can be divided fifty-fifty into people interested in the alternative or and those who are sceptical about it and still have to be convinced of the advantages.

Insect food is rated slightly skeptical. About 33% who know about this type of food cannot imagine eating it, and 5% of those who had it once refuse giving it another try. Again, there are about as many sceptics (28%) as people interested in this alternative (25%). Only 1% said they were consuming insect food on a regular basis – but this might also be linked to the product range that is currently still relatively limited. After all, 8% who have had insects before are still open for this substitute.

The fungus Quorn already shows a slightly better acceptance. Only 19% of those who know it refuse eating it, and at 26% the group of those who are sceptical is also smaller than for the other replacements. About 7% said they were eating Quorn on a regular basis, and 13% have had it before and are still interested in using the mycoprotein.

Overall, meat-free alternatives show considerable potential and attract the consumers’ interest. The qualitative and quantitative results of the study reveal that the marketing of these products should focus on sustainability and animal welfare as hygiene factors. In terms of target group specific measures, integrating unknown into known products, like offering insects in powder form or chopped up, can help to raise their popularity. Those who are interested or consider themselves as lovers of unconventional foods can be addressed best through variety and the experimental character of entomophagy.

About the study: We surveyed 1906 participants online between 17th and 27th August 2018.
Link to the study page:

Author: Dr. Martin Schultze

For further questions please contact:


Rochus Winkler
Co-Founder and Shareholder


Dr. Martin Schultze
Research Director Quantitative

Dirk Ziems
Dirk Ziems ist Experte für tiefenpsychologisches Marketing und berät auf Basis von Markt-, Medien- und Kulturforschung weltweit Unternehmen und Konzerne in zahlreichen Branchen und Ländern. Als Mitbegründer der Global Research Boutique Concept M und der Marketingberatung Flying Elephant begleitet er Themen wie die Adaption von Erfolgsprodukten in neuen kulturellen Kontexten, das tiefe Verständnis neuer Konsumgenerationen in China und USA, die Transformation der Werbekommunikation in der neuen digitalen Medienwelt oder die Neuorientierung der Brands in Post-Corona-Zeiten. Dirk Ziems ist auch als Gastdozent an verschiedenen Universitäten tätig.

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