Tesco’s launch of a 100% plant-based steak in 400 locations around the UK heralds the ongoing trend (and success) of plant-based diets among consumers in this market. The steak, made by Dutch manufacturer Vivera, is made from 80% wheat and soy and claims to have same smell, flavor, and texture as a real steak.

The launch offers an environmentally-friendly solution to beef, notorious for being one of the most unsustainable meat products to consume. Similarly with awareness of the health-impact of consuming red and processed meat at an all-time high this product certainly addresses growing concerns of the dangers associated with high levels of meat consumption.

However will Tesco’s plant-based steak offering prove a hit among the audience driving this trend forward?

While still niche, plant-based and low meat diets have been gaining traction in recent years with younger consumers being the driving force behind them, representing a key audience for innovations such as this.

According to GlobalData’s 2017 primary research just 3% of Brits identify as being vegan with a further 5% being vegetarian. However this increases to 8% and 7% respectively among millennials (born between 1981-1999)  with a further 17% of claiming to follow a low meat diet.

Living a healthy lifestyle is the new social currency among these young consumers who are keen to share their virtuous diets and regimes with their communities and largely on social media. Appreciation that plant-based diets can contribute to better health while also being fashionable to follow is evident in that the hashtag #vegan currently has 60 million posts on Instagram, 22 million more than #cleaneating.

However for many consumers, and particularly clean-eating millennials, the concept of eating healthily is linked to consumption of natural, real ingredients which have undergone limited processing and are as true to their natural state as possible. This could potentially present a hurdle for Tesco’s steak which, while made from natural ingredients such as wheat and soy, has undergone extensive processing to produce its steak-like texture and appearance.

Similarly, given the often indulgent nature of steak-eating occasions – for flexitarians seeking to moderate meat consumption – the allure of a real steak as a treat or indulgence may override desire to consume a steak substitute in its place. This is potentially a meat cut which consumers are not willing to compromise on experience for in favor of a vegan alternative.

Digitally native millennials’ also seek out beautiful, “instagrammable” plant-based foods which can garner likes and validation among their community such as multi-colored smoothie bowls and the electric green of avocado toast. However a meat-substitute such as this could miss out in terms of “instagrammability”, lacking the beautiful, shareable cues many seek out when making food and drink choices.

Tesco’s vegan steak certainly taps into the shift in popularity towards plant-based diets however for millennials, the concept of vegan or plant-based is not just a diet but a wider lifestyle. Brands need to ensure that they provide an offering which can resonate across numerous touchpoints in order to meet the demands of these lifestyle-oriented consumers.

For more insight and data, visit the GlobalData Report Store -Food Processing Technology is part of GlobalData Plc.

Image courtesy of Vivera via Instagram