A survey on plant-based 'meat' shows consumer interest is still strong - and it bodes well for companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods

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  • A survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch showed that consumers are still exciting to buy plant-based meat alternatives.
  • Traditional companies will have to work to catch up to Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, the analysts wrote.
  • Here are 7 key takeaways illustrated in charts from the survey.
  • Watch Beyond Meat trade live on Markets Insider.

A recent survey on the plant-based meat market by Bank of America Merrill Lynch shows that sentiment for the growing industry is still high.

More than two-thirds of consumers surveyed said that they would consider or had already bought a plant-based protein option, the study showed. In addition, of that group, roughly 40% said they intended to repeat the purchase.

"We came away constructive on prospects for the plant-based industry given high level of consumer interest," a team of analysts led by Bryan D. Spillane wrote. BAML maintained its neutral rating and $182 price target on Beyond Meat after the study.

Well-established companies that have recently gotten into the plant-based meat game - here's a list - will have to ramp up product development and build brand authenticity to catch up to the leads Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have, the analysts wrote.

That's partially because new brands like Beyond Meat have captive audiences on social media platforms like Instagram, the study found. Conversations about meat alternatives on Instagram have "grown significantly over the past two years," the analysts wrote.

This can be attributed in part to Beyond Meat's blockbuster initial public offering in May, BAML said. In addition, the social media traffic implies that "this trend is more sustainable than a fad."

If the trend continues to grow, there's a sizeable market up for grabs in plant-based alternatives. Currently, the market is $14 billion in the US, and Barclays estimates that it could balloon to $140 billion in the next decade.

Restaurant operators can benefit from the market by converting "consumer curiosity" into traffic, the analysts said. There's a wide - and growing- variety of restaurants that offer plant-based meat products from a range of providers on their menus. And, going forward, partnerships with restaurants will be important for Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Analysts estimated a partnership with McDonald's could send Beyond shares up 30%.

Here are the key takeaways illustrated in charts from the study, which surveyed over 1,400 consumers on preferences and sentiment, as well as partnered with Social Standards to gauge conversations on Instagram.
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View As: One Page Slides

1. Consumers want to buy plant-based meat, and many plan to buy it more than once

1. Consumers want to buy plant-based meat, and many plan to buy it more than once

2. Most people use it as a supplement to animal based proteins — not a substitute

2. Most people use it as a supplement to animal based proteins — not a substitute

3. Animal welfare is a big reason people buy plant-based meat, but health is important too

3. Animal welfare is a big reason people buy plant-based meat, but health is important too

4. The ingredients in products matter

4. The ingredients in products matter

5. Most people buy plant-based meat in grocery stores

5. Most people buy plant-based meat in grocery stores

6. Prices are high, and need to come down

6. Prices are high, and need to come down

7. Beyond Meat isn’t the most recognized brand — Morningstar Farms is

7. Beyond Meat isn’t the most recognized brand — Morningstar Farms is
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