Global vegetarian food and drink product launches double in five years, Mintel

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th October 2014
Global vegetarian food and drink product launches double in five years, Mintel
Global vegetarian food and drink product launches double in five years, Mintel

Global food and drink launches that carried a vegetarian claim doubled between 2009 and 2013, increasing to 12 per cent, up from 6 per cent, according to new findings from global market research organisation Mintel.

Further to this, Mintel found that 2 per cent of global food and drink launches carried a vegan claim in 2013, up from 1 per cent in 2009.

Mintel said that in the UK today, the vegetarian diet was “firmly on the map” with 12 per cent of UK adults following a vegetarian or vegan diet, rising to 20 per cent of 16 to 24s. In the UK alone, Mintel estimated the meat-free food market to have hit £625 million in 2013 and further forecasts it to rise to £657 in 2014, up from £543 million in 2009. Mintel’s research showed that almost half (48 per cent) of UK consumers saw meat-free products as environmentally friendly and 52 per cent saw them as 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,” she said.

“Indeed, many meat-reducing consumers have adopted a flexible attitude, choosing to limit meat, rather than eliminate it entirely,” Ms Jones said. “Launches of vegetarian and vegan products echo manufacturers desire to communicate the suitability of their products to the widest range of consumers,” she said.

Protein concerns

In addition, while it has been a concern for vegetarians that they will miss out on a vital source of protein, just 17 per cent of UK consumers who are consuming less protein than they were a year ago say this is because they are following more of a vegetarian diet.

Moreover, Mintel found that while the benefits of protein have been in the spotlight over the past 12 months, many UK consumers were opting for non-meat protein sources with one in eight (18 per cent) UK consumers claimed they were eating more non-animal sources of protein (eg dairy, plant, grains) compared to a year ago. Despite this, in 2013 less than 1 per cent 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,” Ms Jones said. “Indeed, consumers are shifting towards more plant based diets,” she said.

The rise of ‘flexitarianism’

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

Vegetarian claims on confectionery

In addition to the rise of vegetarian protein sources, Mintel found there had also been considerable growth in the number of chocolate and sugar confectionery products launched carrying a ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ claim.

While just 4 per cent of chocolate or sugar products launched in 2009 carried a vegetarian claim, this rose to 9 per cent in 2013. The proportion of these products launched with a vegan claim similarly rose from 1 per cent in 2009 to 2 per cent in 2013.

Further to this, the number of chocolate and sugar confectionery products using a glazing agent boasted even larger growth with 32 per cent of these products carrying a ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ claim in 2013, up from 13 per cent 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,” Ms Jones said. “Ingredients will continue to be scrutinised by consumers and manufacturers need to be responsive and proactive to quell any consumer concerns,” she said.