PARSIPPANY, NJ. — Flexitarian consumers are driving demand for plant-based foods and are the most important target group for manufacturers of plant-based products, according to new research from Beneo.

Belgium-based market research agency Insites Consulting surveyed nearly 12,000 consumers in 10 countries on behalf of Beneo and found one-in-four called themselves flexitarians. Seven percent identified as vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian. Approximately half of flexitarians already purchase plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, with a third also buying plant-based sweets like chocolate.

Sustainability, transparency, health and “exciting new food experiences” are areas of focus for flexitarians, according to the research. Eighty-four percent are concerned about climate change and 86% want to know how their food is made. Six-in-ten consider product quality and traceability when shopping. Approximately 70% pay attention to on-pack information and nutritional claims, and half aspire to keep up with new food trends.

“Flexitarians are the driving force within the plant-based segment, and they are also a sophisticated target group,” said Myriam Snaet, head of market intelligence and consumer insights at Beneo. “They are looking for a convenient way to include innovative and adventurous taste experiences in their daily diet and aren’t willing to compromise on enjoyment.”

Beneo offers a range of plant-based ingredients, including carbohydrates from sugar beet, prebiotic chicory root fiber, plant-based proteins and specialty ingredients from rice.