A shift towards healthier eating, in particular a soaring interest in plant-based diets, is both a challenge and an opportunity for brands.
A growing market.
Concerns about animal welfare, the environment and personal health are driving Brits to make more of their meals plant-based. In fact, according to a recent survey by publisher Great British Chefs*, although less than 1% of Brits identify as strict vegans, nearly a quarter say that they regularly eat vegan dishes.
And interest is growing rapidly.
The UK market for meat-free foods was reportedly worth £572m in 2017, according to market researchers Mintel – up from £539m only two years earlier. And interest in vegetarian and vegan products show no sign of slowing down, with retail sales expected to increase to £658m by 2021.^
High street chains have rapidly adapted to the changing demand. Marks & Spencer, Pret a Manger, Wagamama and others have introduced vegan options. And last year Guinness broke with a 250-year tradition of using fish bladders in its brewing process.**
Alcohol brands are also going dairy-free. Baileys has developed a dairy-free liqueur, which it launched with a vegan-friendly pop-up offering vegan desserts and sweets alongside the new liqueur.
An endless array of business start-ups, cookbooks, YouTube channels, events and documentaries are hot on the heels of this trend too – stepping into the gaps in the market not yet filled by more traditional, mainstream outlets. In 2017 new plant-based burger company Vurger hit its £150,000 crowd investment target in little more than 24 hours.
As vegan foods become more accessible and varied, demand could grow even further as more consumers see veganism as a viable option. By investing in the development of vegan-friendly choices, brands can both take advantage of the appetite for plant-based foods, and help fuel the demand, ensuring their investment pays off.
* The Great British Foodie White paper, Great British Chefs, July 2018
** The unstoppable rise of veganism: how a fringe movement went mainstream, The Guardian, April 2018
^ Veganism: Why is it on the up? BBC website, June 2018