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52% of new meat-free products in UK are vegan, figures claim
02/11/2018 - 06:00
More than half of new meat-free product launches in the UK carry a vegan claim, according to research from Mintel.

The growing profile of vegan foods is reflected by the fact that in 2017, more than half (52%) of new product launches in the meat-free foods market were vegan/contained no animal ingredients up from 28% in 2014, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

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 buzz surrounding ‘Veganuary’ gained momentum in January 2018, with a raft of vegan products launching to capitalise on the month-long meat-free movement. Vegan claims in the market span own-label products, as well as branded ones, signalling that supermarkets are also keen to capitalise on this interest. 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 foodservice arena and a significant advertising push in 2018, which has increased the visibility and awareness of these products among consumers, as well as injected excitement into the category.”

Brits trim back meat consumption

While 90% of Brits are red meat and poultry eaters, Mintel research has found that consumer interest in limiting and reducing meat consumption remains strong, as 34% of meat eaters reduced their meat consumption in 2018.

Younger Brits aged 25-34 are the most likely (40%) to have reduced meat consumption in the last year.

A further 21% of meat eaters say that they would be interested in limiting/reducing their meat consumption in the future, highlighting the growing appeal of meat reduction and the opportunity for meat-free foods.

Parkes added: “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. The multi-dimensional appeal of the meat-free trend bodes well for its longevity.”

Meat avoiders want their meat-free foods to look like meat

Tasting like meat is the top factor for 26% of none-to-infrequent eaters of meat-free foods. There is also some interest in products that replicate meat in other ways, with 15% of the consumers group agreeing that meat-free burgers which ‘bleed’ are appealing; rising to 25% of 16-34-year-olds.

Despite this, research has confirmed that there is some confusion and concern surrounding meat-free foods, with 44% of Brist unclear about what ingredients are used in these foods. With two-fifths (41%) of consumers agreeing that meat-free foods with a shorter list of ingredients are more appealing than those with longer ingredient lists, and a further 31% believing that meat-free foods are too processed to be healthier than meat.

“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, which combined with health credentials, ethical claims and environmental considerations, creates a compelling proposition. This visual aspect also makes these products highly ‘Instagrammable’, and can help catch the eye of experimental foodies, as well as a wider audience,” Parkes concluded.