Plant-Based Push: Rocket Sales Of Meat-Free Foods In UK

Thursday, January 30th, 2020 | 1280 Views

From meatless steak bakes to plant-based Whoppers, it seems that vegan food product launches are now in full swing as new research from Mintel reveals a nation hungry for meat-free foods.

Over the past two years, the number of Brits who have eaten meat-free foods* has shot up from 50 percent in 2017 to 65 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, sales of meat-free foods have grown an impressive 40 percent from £582 million in 2014 to an estimated £816 million in 2019. Such is the popularity of meat-free food that sales are expected to be in excess of £1.1 billion by 2024.

According to Mintel research, the proportion of meat eaters who have reduced or limited the amount of meat they consume has risen from 28 percent in 2017 to 39 percent in 2019. Women are more likely than men to have limited/reduced the amount of meat in their diets (42 percent compared to 36 percent); this rises to 45 percent among all under-45s. But while the meat-free market is thriving, 38 percent of non-users would prefer to substitute meat with other ingredients such as cheese or pulses, rather than buy meat substitutes.

And while the flexitarian diet – comprised of predominantly plant-based food, with some meat and fish – is all the buzz, meat remains a cornerstone of Britons’ diets, with 88 percent of Brits eating red meat/poultry. This comes as research from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals that almost a quarter (23 percent) of all new UK food product launches in 2019 were labelled as vegan, compared to 17 percent in 2018. However, there has been no significant increase in the proportion of consumers who say they are vegan since 2018, according to Mintel research, with those following a vegan diet still only equating to around one percent of the UK population.

“The rising popularity of flexitarian diets has helped to drive demand for meat-free products. Many consumers perceive that plant-based foods are a healthier option, and this notion is the key driver behind the reduction in meat consumption in recent years,” said Kate Vlietstra, Mintel Global Food & Drink Analyst.

“As the meat-free market becomes increasingly crowded, brands will need to find more ways to distinguish themselves from their competitors – it’s no longer enough to just be meat-free. Companies will need to be transparent about the healthiness of their products, and also address the quality and quantity of nutrients to win over the discerning consumer. Meat-free products are generally aimed towards young professionals, who tend to be receptive to trying new foods, but we are also likely to see these products targeted at both children and over-55s in the future.  As food education within schools improves, it seems that the meat-free food market is missing a trick by not targeting children and families. Meanwhile, over-55s are likely to be attracted to functional health claims and clean labels,” she continued.


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