Interest in meat alternatives, vegan and vegetarian food, especially among consumers aged 18–29, would continue to rise, according to research from the J Water Thompson Innovation Group’s Future Food and Drink report.
Almost a third (30%) of consumers claimed to be limiting their meat consumption through a ‘flexitarian’ diet, the report said.
Consumers eating a limited- or meat-free diet did so because they believed it was healthier or because they thought it would limit their impact on the environment.
‘Viewing their food and drink holistically’
There is a growing trend towards meat reduction around the world and as more consumers turn to alternative sources of protein, Quorn has seen a growth in sales globally
Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the Innovation Group, said: “What’s clear is that consumers are viewing their food and drink holistically.
“It’s not about product service or ingredients – brands and retailers are being assessed on what a product does to the environment, their supply chain, how they treat their staff from production to service, whether their ingredients are natural and more.”
The Future Food and Drink report followed an M&C Allegra Foodservice New Menu Item Analysis, which claimed vegetarian dishes accounted for 31% of new menu items across the eating-out sector – up from 18% in 2014.
Pubs and casual restaurants were most-likely to add meat-free dishes to their menus, while the trend was attributed to a rise in flexitarianism among consumers, the report said.
As a result of the rise in vegetarian and vegan menu options, beef dishes dropped significantly in popularity, with just 8% of new menu items incorporating it, compared with 18% in 2014.
Senior analyst at M&C Allegra Foodservice Peter Linden said: “The healthier eating megatrend plays a key role, as operators expect consumers to embrace vegetarian dishes as healthier options.
“The drop in beef’s share of new additions was also influenced by the large amount of burgers that operators added to their menus over 2014.”
Industry experts had predicted vegetarian and vegan dishes would claim a larger part of menus in the next three years. Linden added: “This will be driven by dietary requirements and lifestyle choices.”
Meanwhile, Quorn – meat-free mycoprotein maker – increased sales by 9% in Europe over the past six months.
Chief executive Kevin Brennan said: “There is a growing trend towards meat reduction around the world and as more consumers turn to alternative sources of protein, Quorn has seen a growth in sales globally.”