By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh, Industry Relations, Food Marketing Institute
Source:, April 2019

Recently, Burger King introduced the Impossible Whopper—a vegetarian version of the classic Whopper—and there are claims of other fast food restaurants following this trend. Taste testers in the pilot location of St. Louis, Missouri, are giving the Impossible Whopper rave reviews.

Who would have thought that in my lifetime a major fast food chain would turn its classic burger vegetarian? What’s behind this shift in consumer appetite? Is it the rising millennial population segment setting this trend?

Rising Meat Alternative Market

According to the 2019 Power of Meat report, plant-based meat alternatives represent $878 million in annual sales and have grown 19.2 percent in the last year. Shoppers—Gen Z and young millennial shoppers to be exact—are motivated by health, ethics and the rising cost of meat when buying meat alternatives.

Millennials and Meat

During the 2019 Annual Meat Conference, the presentation of the Power of Meat report looked at both current consumption and interest to try plant-based meat alternatives. Findings suggest that interest among Gen Z and millennials for plant-based meat alternatives is high, while boomers are significantly more likely to have no interest purchasing these items.

Getting to the Meat of the Matter

Eighty-six percent of shoppers classify themselves as meat eaters and 10 percent describe themselves as flexitarian. While younger generations have a stronger appetite for new and different foods, the majority of U.S. consumers still ask, “Where’s the meat?” Still, its clear many consumers are experimenting with plant-based meat alternatives, while others are committed to it. Going forward supermarkets will need to have offerings of alternative meats, and fully understand that when it comes to meat, many consumers will want both the real deal and the alternative.