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A Millennial’s Two Cents on Meat Alternatives

Megan Griesheim

Reading Time: 2 minutes
I am a 90’s baby, loved and known by all as a “Millennial.” I quote the late Kurt Cobain, frontman for Nirvana, not only for the generational icon he is but because he said it best, he said it for all of us and at times he had us screaming it at the top of our lungs, “Here we are now — entertain us.”

Although Cobain’s quote is a generalization, it accurately reflects a Millennial’s expectation of the world at large, and this includes the grocery landscape. As a twenty-something consumer navigating the shopper’s journey, I find myself attracted to stores that combine a sense of entertainment with high-quality products to help elevate my grocery shopping experience. What our mothers thought of as a dreaded chore, we Millennials view as an opportunity to be engaged.

So when I see products in the meat case that appeal to my sense of adventure, I am all about checking them out. This includes the new plant- and cell-based products coming onto the scene. Now, before you start wagging your finger at me, you need to know that I am a full-hearted industry advocate. I have a bachelor’s in agriculture science, with a focus on animal livestock science, and I’ve dedicated my professional career to supporting the meat industry. I love nothing more than a big, juicy beef burger with a generous side of fries. But, I’m not going to lie… I am really curious about the new protein alternatives showing up at my local grocery store. This new food innovation has a lot of us Millennials intrigued, whether we think of ourselves as meat eaters, vegetarians or perhaps follow a diet that’s somewhere in the middle — meat alternatives have our attention.

To give it to you straight, these new products are charming us. For the traditional processors wondering how they’re doing it, let me tell you: First, it’s a completely new source of protein to take home and explore. “Plant-based” and “cell-based” are new terms that I want to learn more about. Next, protein alternatives are telling their story extremely well and it’s resonating with consumers who fall on the “flexitarian” scale (those with a flexible attitude toward protein who eat both animal- and plant-based proteins). They’re also stealing the show as far as presentation goes: the packaging is colorful and eye catching, with messaging that’s witty and clever (I’ve got to admit, a few even made me laugh out loud!).

I did not go to the store with the intention of picking up alternative proteins but the big show they’ve been putting on has caught my eye. Even though I could eat animal protein at every meal, why wouldn’t I want to take this product home and see what it’s all about? The truth is, many Millennials like me are feeding their curiosity by doing the same thing.

There’s data to back up my personal experience: 71% of Millennials believe that a significantly enhanced retail experience would increase their in-store visits and purchases.* In my book, innovative protein products definitely help foster an “enhanced retail experience.”

The bottom line is with meat-loving, curious consumers like me choosing alternatives over the products the meat industry has been producing for years, packer/processors and retailers need to think about how they will continue to captivate us. Kurt Cobain understood completely.