Fresh Food

Protein Is Still at the Top of Shoppers’ Lists

The Lempert Report: Consumers, particularly millennials, say protein content is extremely influential in their grocery purchases

Acosta’s Progressing Protein Palates provides insights into American shoppers’ protein-packed shopping carts, highlighting the interest and popularity of both fresh meats and plant-based meat alternatives. The study shows that 18% of shoppers are buying more fresh meat versus last year, with natural and organic meat outpacing conventional options. 

Eighty-one percent of millennials, 74% of Gen Xers, 66% of boomers and 50% of silents said protein content is extremely or very influential when making grocery store purchases, according to the report. The study also revealed that generations view protein differently, with older generations more concerned with the health benefits of protein, and younger generations caring about exercise recovery and feeling full.  

Here’s what the report says:

  • Eighteen percent of shoppers are buying more fresh meat versus last year, while 12% are buying less—mainly due to price and striving to eat healthier, either for themselves or their families. 
  • Forty-one percent of millennials are buying more fresh meat versus a year ago, more than all other generations combined.
  • Shoppers are recognizing that consuming meat isn’t the only way to pack protein, with plant-based meat alternatives growing 11% in units year over year.
  • Seventy-one percent of shoppers who purchase plant-based meat alternatives also eat meat.
  • Meat-eaters are interested in alternative diets that are either less focused on meats or do not contain meat altogether, especially millennials. Twenty-six percent of millennials are already vegetarian or vegan.
  • Thirty-four percent of meat-eating millennials eat four or more vegetarian dinners each week. 

And no surprise…

  • Shoppers struggle with the wide assortment of product claims, especially with those related to meat products, such as humanely raised and free-range claims.
  • Millennials rank the highest for label confusion, with 58% having some level of confusion. What is surprising is that Gen X is the most informed generation of shoppers.
  • Of shoppers who feel confused or overwhelmed, 85% would like to have more information available to understand claims and labels.


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