While only 1% of the British population is vegan, 26% of carnivores in a recent YouGov poll had a desire to cut back on their meat consumption. That’s on top of the 14% of us who now describe ourselves as ‘Flexitarian’. There is no disputing the growing environmental concerns surrounding livestock farming, not to mention the fact that consumers are waking up to the health benefits of cutting back on their meat consumption. Just this month we’ve heard of Pret a Manger’s plans to convert most of their recently acquired Eat stores to Veggie Prets and Ginsters has launched a Vegan version of its Moroccan Vegetable Pasty.
Vegan product launches now make up a fifth of all retail NPD and the UK is now a global leader - overtaking both the US and Germany. Plant based ‘meat’ alternatives may claim to imitate the look, feel and taste of real meat, but many are yet to be convinced. While this type of food has a healthy halo, many of our Reviewers are sceptical about how good they are likely to taste and price can also be a barrier to trial. Despite these challenges, the market is hotting up. There has been much publicised success in the States with Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat battling it out in the meatless burger market and here in the UK big Brands such as Nestle and Unilever are taking on smaller players such as the Meatless Farm Company and are gearing up to the challenge. UK retailers have also been fuelling the trend for Vegan and Vegetarian food. Own label is taking a growing share of plant-based NPD and we have tested a number of innovative plant-based own label products including this month’s Morrisons Veggie Nacho Bean Bites and Tesco’s Katsu Curry Rice Balls. Meanwhile, much of the innovation evaluated this month is geared towards Summer. We have a range of exciting new flavours to tempt the taste-buds, from exotic snacks and spicy sauces and dips to refreshing desserts.