16 figures on the UK's meat-free market

As November kicks off World Vegan Month, latest research from Mintel reveals a surge in meat-free eating and the predicted value of the market in the future.

2 November 2018
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  • 56% of UK adults ate vegetarian/meat-free foods in the six months to July this year, a 6% increase from 2017.
  • A third of Brits have also limited/reduced meat eating in the first half of 2018.
  • The UK meat-free market is expected to reach an estimated £740m in 2018.
  • In 2017, 52% of new product launches into the meat-free foods market were vegan/contained no animal ingredients up from 28% in 2014.
  • The growth of vegan products appealed to the 26% of consumers, who prefer meat-free products to be plant-based rather than containing eggs or dairy.
  • Sales of meat-free foods in general have shot up 22% between 2013-18.
  • Looking to the future, sales in the meat-free market are forecast to increase by a further 44% by 2023 to reach £1.1b.
  • While 90% of Brits are red meat/poultry eaters, 34% of meat eaters reduced their meat consumption in 2018.
  • A further 21% of meat eaters say that they would be interested in limiting/reducing their meat consumption in the future.
  • Younger Brits, aged 25-34, are the most likely to have reduced meat consumption, with 40% of those surveyed doing so in the last year.
  • The top three perceived benefits of eating less meat are improving health (32%), saving money (31%), and being better for the environment (25%).
  • Despite improvement of health being seen as the top benefit, fewer consumers associated eating less meat with helping to manage weight (25%) or reducing the risk of disease (22%).
  • Vegetarian or meat-free foods that taste like meat are the top enticing factor for 26% of non-/infrequent eaters.
  • There is also some interest in products that replicate meat in other ways, with 15% of consumers agreeing that meat-free burgers which ‘bleed’ are appealing; rising to a quarter of 16-34-year-olds.
  • Despite this, Mintel research confirms there is some confusion and concern surrounding meat-free foods, with 44% of Brits unclear about what ingredients are used in these foods.
  • Meanwhile, two-fifths of consumers agree that meat-free foods with a shorter list of ingredients are more appealing than those with a longer list, and a further 31% believe that meat-free foods are too processed to be healthier than meat. So transparency is key in order to reassure consumers and build trust.


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.”

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