New data from The NPD Group show consumption of plant-based dairy alternatives is more likely to take place at home, but plant-based meat alternatives are more frequently eaten at restaurants.

According to the data, 93% of meals or snacks that contain milk alternatives are consumed at home with the other 7% of consumption happening in a food service or restaurant setting. In contrast, consumers eat plant-based meat alternatives at restaurants 78% of the time.

Darren Seifer, an NPD food and beverage industry analyst, explained the inverted preferences by noting plant-based meat alternatives “are prepared in the same way animal protein menu items are, which means the consumer isn’t sacrificing taste for what they believe to be a healthier option. It would be challenging to replicate the same taste at home.”

As for the dairy alternatives, Seifer said those products “are an at-home choice because these beverages and foods are convenient as a ready-to-drink beverage or to use as an ingredient.”

While plant-based meat alternative sales are still dwarfed by their conventional counterparts, dairy alternatives are rising in popularity. NPD cited the so-called “health-halo” of plant-based alternatives — which in many cases can be challenged — as part of the rationale.

“Consumers see plant-based alternatives as healthier options to their traditional counterparts,” says Seifer. “Plant-based beverages and foods are growing and gaining loyalty. These products still represent a small share in the categories in which they compete, but do give consumers more options to consider.”

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