The survey, commissioned to Surveygoo by UK PR agency Ingredient Communications, polled 1,000 people across the US and UK to explore attitudes to the way meat-free products were named.
The result found that 25% of participants said manufacturers of vegetarian products should not be permitted to use meat-related names like sausage, burger or steak.
Other results revealed that vegetarians were the least likely to disapprove of meat-related names, with only 18% supporting a ban. By contrast, 33% of vegans and 26% of meat-eaters said vegetarian products should not be allowed to have meat-related names.
Ingredient Communications’ managing director Richard Clarke said he was “surprised” by how many consumers supported the ban.
“With interest in plant-based diets increasing, and a backlash from the meat industry under way, it is time for a debate about the way vegetarian and vegan products are presented,” said Clarke.
“It’s no secret that many in the meat industry want to stop what they see as the misrepresentation of vegetarian products.”
Meanwhile, Surveygoo’s managing director Neil Cary commented on the extent of the difference between vegetarians and vegans.
“Vegetarians seem to prefer products that mimic traditional meat formats, but this is a turn-off for many vegans,” said Cary.
“The obvious lesson for manufacturers and marketers of plant-based products is that vegetarians and vegans are distinct consumer categories, with vastly different purchasing preferences.”
The issue of ‘meat-less’ items being labelled as sausages, steaks and hamburgers has been a controversial issue across the international meat industry, with many markets already taking action on the subject.
Last year, French politicians voted in favour of banning food products from labelling vegetarian-based products as meat items after receiving many complaints from consumers that these were “misleading”.
Additionally, the North American Meat Institute’s (NAMI) senior vice president for regulatory and scientific affairs Mark Dopps, speaking at the IPPE show in Atlanta, Georgia last month, called for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to have primary jurisdiction of plant-based products to cut out “illegal” marketing of the items.
Following this call, an agreement was struck last week for USDA and the FDA to jointly have regulatory oversight on cell-produced meats.