Does it seem like everywhere you turn, there is another so-called health guru promoting the latest and greatest diet trend? While some of these fads come and go, others have staying power. With health and well-being at center stage for consumers as we collectively battle the pandemic, “clean eating” is one trend that continues to dominate and also aligns with long-standing meat-friendly movements such as Paleo, Whole30 and Keto diets.
After all, consumers are not only eating cleaner, they are also paying more attention to ingredient lists, choosing clean ingredients and avoiding chemical-sounding ingredients, according to a recent Food Insight Survey. This research also reports that for those who seek out foods and beverages with “clean” ingredients, the most highly ranked definition for this term is “not artificial or synthetic.” Consumers are putting money where their mouth is, with 2 in 3 saying that ingredients have at least a moderate influence on their food and beverage purchases.2
Not only do “real” beef and pork fit the bill for foods “in their natural state,” the time has come to debunk the myth that all plant-based meats fall under the scope of clean eating when in fact, many are highly processed and contain a long list of additives. In general, minimally processed equates to five total ingredients or fewer on a label, as pointed out in the book Food Rules by Michael Pollan. While fresh ground beef contains just that – beef animal protein – leading plant-based “burgers” often contain more than 14 ingredients including refined and highly processed canola oil as well as less-than-clean additives like methylcellulose and maltodextrin. The plant-based manufacturers continually “crown this ultra-processed food with an undeserved health halo,”3 thereby contributing to misinformation to consumers.
The meat industry should feel empowered to spread the truth about plant-based meats to clean eating consumers. Simultaneously, the meat industry should promote the clean-eating, nutritional benefits of beef and pork. To get started, meet these folks where they already are in the digital space. To help simplify a daily bombardment of information overload, people often select key influencers or specific digital channels to follow for a more personalized set of news and tips. Knowing that the clean eating trend extends into several popular diets such as Paleo and Keto, the beef and pork industry should look for ways to engage with influencers like Paleo Running Momma, The Clean Eating Couple and Dr. Mark Hyman. The meat industry should also seize the opportunity to create proprietary messaging targeting clean eaters. To remain relevant and impactful to consumers, the messaging should share the facts in an engaging, friendly tone, via new, shareable and relevant content. Content should also include meat-centric recipes tailored to clean eating diets, enabling meat companies to become a go-to source for nutritional meal inspiration.
The health and wellness boom is here to stay and consumers have a real interest in learning about their food. There is no time like the present for the meat industry to reinforce that beef and pork indeed have a well-deserved and welcomed place in clean eating. Get underway with a solid plan to target these clean eaters so you don’t miss out on potential market share gain.
1 Spritzler, Franziska, 11 Simple Ways to Start Clean Eating Today, Healthline.com, April 2019
2 Food Insight, From ‘Chemical Sounding’ to ‘Clean’: Consumer Perspectives on Food Ingredients, June 2021
3 Rosenblum, Cara, Is it really possible that plant-based foods such as the Impossible Whopper are healthful?, The Washington Post, September 9, 2019