Vegetarian launches have doubled in five years, finds Mintel

14-Oct-2014

The number of new vegan food and drink products also doubles

New research from Mintel has found that 12% of global food and drink products launched in 2013 carried a vegetarian claim, up from 6% in 2009.

In addition, 2% of global food and drink launches carried a vegan claim last year, up from 1% in 2009.

The vegetarian diet is firmly on the map among the British population with 12% of UK adults following a vegetarian or vegan diet, a figure that rises to 20% of 16 to 24 year-olds, says Mintel.

The research organisation estimates that in the UK the meat-free food market was worth £625m in 2013, and forecasts that it will rise to £657m in 2014, up from £543m in 2009. Mintel’s research also reveals that almost half (48%) of Britons see meat-free products as environmentally friendly and 52% think they are healthy.

'Our research highlights just how much of an impact vegetarianism has had on the UK food and drink market,' said Laura Jones, global food science analyst at Mintel.

'Globally, the outlook for the meat alternative market is positive and will continue to be driven by an emerging consumer trend towards meat reduction on a part-time basis, also called 'flexitarianism', entailing increased consumption of plant-based foods without completely cutting out meat. Indeed, many meat-reducing consumers have chosen to limit their meat intake, rather than eliminate it entirely.'

Globally, the outlook for the meat alternative market is positive and will continue to be driven by an emerging consumer trend towards meat reduction on a part-time basis

In addition, Mintel says that while vegetarians have been concerned that they will miss out on a vital source of protein, only 17% of Britons who are consuming less protein than they were a year ago say this is because they are following more of a vegetarian diet. Moreover, the researchers said that while the benefits of protein have been in the spotlight over the past 12 months, many Britons are opting for non-meat protein sources with one in eight (18%) claiming that they are eating more non-animal sources of protein (e.g. dairy, plant, grains) compared with a year ago. In spite of this, in 2013 less than 1% of food and drink products launched globally carried both a ‘vegetarian’ and ‘high-protein’ claim.

'Plant-based and other vegetarian protein sources align with consumer interest in reducing red meat consumption and growing interest in vegetarian products. Indeed, consumers are shifting towards more plant-based diets,' Jones added.

Signifying the rise of the ‘flexitarian’, there seems to be a trend for consumers to embrace more vegetable-based meat dishes. As many as one in eight (13%) UK meat-buyers claim they would be interested in buying 'half-and-half' products from the supermarket, with 50% red meat and 50% vegetable protein, for example.

In addition to the rise of vegetarian protein sources, there has also been considerable growth in the number of chocolate and sugar confectionery products launched carrying a ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ claim, says Mintel. While just 4% of chocolate or sugar products launched in 2009 carried a vegetarian claim, this rose to 9% in 2013. The proportion of these products launched with a vegan claim similarly rose from 1% in 2009 to 2% in 2013.

Plant-based and other vegetarian protein sources align with consumer interest in reducing red meat consumption and growing interest in vegetarian products

Further to this, the number of chocolate and sugar confectionery products using a glazing agent boasted even larger growth with 32% of these products carrying a ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ claim in 2013, up from 13% in 2009.

'Among chocolate and sugar confectionery products there is increasingly demand for vegetarian ingredients, reflected by the increasing use of both vegetarian and vegan claims on new product launches. Ingredients will continue to be scrutinised by consumers and manufacturers need to be responsive and proactive to quell any consumer concerns,' concluded Jones.

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