CONFIRMING a trend that many retailers have been aware of for a while, research from Mintel has shown that veganism is firmly on the rise in the UK.
The research firm found that 34% of British shoppers limited or reduced their meat eating in the first half of 2018, and a further 21% of meat eaters say that they would be interested in reducing their meat consumption in future.
This move away from meat has, unsurprisingly, led to a greater demand for plant-based products.
Mintel found that the meat free market in the UK reached an estimated £740 million this year, while sales of meat-free foods shot up 22% between 2013 and 2018.
Nearly doubling from 2014, the firm also found that in 2017 more than half (52%) of new product launches in the meat-free foods market were vegan or contained no animal ingredients.
Alyson Parkes, research analyst at Mintel, said: “Although the meat-free market is not vegan by definition, there has been a significant increase in the number of new products that carry a vegan claim.
“The appeal of meat-free products also extends far beyond the still very limited pool of vegan consumers. The rising profile of meat-free products and plant-based diets has been helped by activity in the food service arena and a significant advertising push in 2018.”
When it comes to meat alternative products, Mintel found that consumers want manufacturers to keep it simple, with two in five (41%) agreeing that meat-free foods with a shorter list of ingredients are more appealing than those with longer ingredient lists.
Mintel’s research also revealed that when eating meat free products some consumers still wish to replicate the experience of eating meat, with 15% of non or infrequent meat-free eaters saying that meat-free burgers which ‘bleed’ are appealing.
Parkes said: “Several companies have recently launched revolutionary plant-based burgers that mimic the same ‘bleeding’ quality as animal-based meat burgers when cooked. This meat-replicating feature certainly makes the concept of meat-free foods more newsworthy and intriguing for consumers.”
For consumers who want to cut down on their meat consumption, Mintel found that the top three perceived benefits of eating less meat were improving health (32%), saving money (31%), and being better for the environment (25%).
“The UK’s overarching health trend has underpinned meat reduction behaviours, with consumers increasingly looking for better-for-you food and drink products.
“However, the benefits associated with eating less meat extend far beyond health, also encompassing animal ethics and the environment,” said Parkes.
And, according to Parkes, the “multi-dimensional” appeal of the meat-free trend “bodes well for its longevity” and means it isn’t set to go anywhere soon.