On the surface of things, it’s been a tough old year for the meat industry, as plant-based foods continued their seemingly unstoppable rise. Our colleagues at The Grocer this month revealed double-digit increases in meat-free sales for every major supermarket (bar Tesco) over the past year.
In terms of market share, Tesco remains the leader with almost 25% of total value, with their innovative Tesco Wicked Kitchen range paving the way for their follow-up sub-brand, Plant Chef, which launched in September.
Beyond retail, Deliveroo have reported a 330% rise in orders for vegan food in the last two years, with the relentless worldwide trend seemingly condemning the meat industry to a prolonged period of uncertainty and decline.
However, a wide-ranging 2020 forecast from New Nutrition Business, a leading trends and strategic analysis company, suggests that there’s still plenty of room for growth in carnivorous sales in the coming year.
‘We’re not all turning into vegans’
In the recently published ‘10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2020’, Julian Mellentin, founder and director of New Nutrition Business, claims that while veganism and the plant-based movement have established themselves as long-term trends, the meat industry has quietly been experiencing growth in both the US and in Europe, specifically in the snacks category.
“Consumers’ perception of meat as a tasty and high-quality protein is driving the reinvention of meat and will secure its permanent place on the plate, and as a snack,” says Mellentin.
‘Meat reimagined’ was a key point in Food Spark’s recent Food Trends 2020 report, a concept backed by Mellentin, who said that recent pushbacks to the environmental arguments about meat will be taken as a “permission to indulge” for UK carnivores – around 50% of the population.
“People want plants, but we’re not all turning into vegans,” continues Mellentin in his annual report.
“In a world where consumers hold fragmented beliefs, there’s room for both plants and meat. With plant-based getting all the attention, and meat under attack, creative meat producers are taking steps to reinvent their category, for example with sustainability, provenance and convenience.”
US sales of meat snacks grew 6.7% in 2019 to $4.5bn, explains the report, with recent Nielsen data showing that meat brands that focus on provenance, sustainability and animal welfare are becoming more and more prevalent.
In the UK, sales are led primarily by convenience, Mellentin told Food Spark, with these trends pointing “to a stronger position for 'grass-fed' and sustainable meats to get higher prices and more sales.”
Another key point to take from New Nutrition Business’ report is a considerable rise in demand for inulin in cereals and granolas.
A soluble, plant-based fibre (extracted from chicory root), inulin is being used not only as a sugar replacement but also as a prebiotic, with the report saying brands are seeing the benefits of being able to offer low-sugar and digestive wellness (natural sweeteners with nutritional benefits) in a product.
“The Troo Granola brand in the UK, for example, uses inulin syrup in its products because it serves both as a prebiotic and a sweetener, giving a more appealing taste to consumers while keeping sugar content down,” says Mellentin.
“These twin benefits have caused demand for inulin to surge – the number of products launched that feature inulin doubled between 2012 and 2019.”
Digestive wellness is a very common prediction for 2020, with a holistic approach to living and eating recently forecast for the coming decade by Mintel in their ‘Global Consumer Trends 2030’ report.
New Nutrition Business’ 10 Key Trends:
- Digestive Wellness
- Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
- Sugar - Reinventing Sweetness
- Rebirth of Fat
- Meat Reimagined
- Provenance and Authenticity
- Energy 2.0
The four “Mega Trends” running across all categories:
- Naturally Functional