TOPEKA, Kan. — In a multifaceted study conducted by researchers at Kansas State University to determine if current plant-based ground beef alternatives offer similar palatability characteristics to ground beef patties, consumers answered with a resounding “No.” According to K-State meat scientist Travis O’Quinn, ground beef, offered with 10%, 20% and 30% fat, was strongly preferred for taste and flavor over plant-based alternatives, and less than one-third of the respondents said they would purchase the alternatives in a retail setting.
“The results are pretty stark,” O’Quinn said. “Our three ground beef products were highly desired by consumers. We didn’t witness many differences among the three fat levels we offered, but when we compared those to the ground beef alternatives, every one of the alternatives had a tendency to fall out (of favorability with consumers).”
Consumers in the study rated the plant-based alternatives as “extremely dry” and “very low” for flavor. O’Quinn explained the plant-based alternatives not only differed in taste, but also in appearance and how they cooked. The study did find plant-based ground beef alternatives to be more tender than regular ground beef. However, with ground products, that is not necessarily a good thing as the tenderness made the products more soft and less likely to hold together. Ground beef’s ability to stick together provided a texture that was more preferred by consumers.
— Kansas Livestock Association
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