How is vegan food performing in the UK market?

Mintel has released its latest research on product launches, while Barclays predicts huge growth for the meat alternative market globally.

24 May 2019
meat alternativeplant-basedstatisticssupermarketsvegan

  • UK vegan launches have doubled over the past two years, rising from 9% of all NPD in the year to April 2017 to 18% of all food launches in April 2019, according to Mintel.
  • Much of this growth was driven by own-label NPD. Range launches by the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S during the past 12 months helped increase the own-label share of plant-based NPD from 26% in 2015 to 37% in 2019.
  • 27% of Brits plan to buy vegan food this year.
  • Own-label launches were doing a better job of appealing to shoppers, with 32% saying they would buy a new product, compared to 24% for brands.
  • 55% of shoppers thought vegan food was healthy, compared to 33% for non-vegan food.
  • But just 41% felt vegan food was tasty, compared to 53% who said the same about non-vegan food.
  • 45% of Brits view vegan food as natural.
  • The vegan trend will further develop over the next two years, with an increasing desire to tap the ‘dirty vegan’ category, but its ‘natural’ credentials would also be subject to much more scrutiny, according to Mintel.
  • More plant-based options are needed for sandwiches. The Eating Better Alliance for British Sandwich Week completed a snapshot survey of 620 sandwiches on sale in major retailers, finding that just 9% had plants as their main ingredient, while 33% of meat sandwiches contained meat of unknown origin.
  • Alternative meats could be a huge growth category. Barclay analysts found the alternative meat market could grow from its current value of $14bn to be worth $140bn over the next 10 years.
  • In fact, vegan players could grab 10% of the $1.4tn meat market in a decade. But Barclays warned factors like potential regulation restrictions and perceptions that the products are unhealthy due to flavourings and additives could constrain this growth.
  • The key to meat alternatives success could be appealing to the group that drives meat consumption:males aged 14-70.


“A lot of people are being attracted to the category – it has real power over consumers. But if taste expectations are not being met, the danger is shoppers will not return to the product,” said Mintel associate director for food and drink Jonny Forsyth.“There is genuine mainstream interest in this trend, and that’s only going to grow. But it’s clear most of these vegan products are not hitting those permissible indulgent notes, and until they do, the category won’t live up to its potential. Taste is still king.”

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