Since the horsemeat scandal has consumed all media channels, it is perhaps unsurprising that consumer attention has been drawn towards meat free products. Gone are the days where meat free was just for veggies – meat eaters buy them too!
Indeed, I am one of those meat eaters. Quorn mince has long since been a staple in my household, and so when the brand started bringing out new chilled products, I was somewhat relieved that Quorn had realised their potential and expanded, rather than faded away behind the pies. Their newer products include chilled pasta sauces and of course, Lunch Pots.
A brand which may come to mind just as quickly as Quorn in this market is Linda McCartney. Up until recently, the brand only produced frozen foods, but they have now introduced a chilled range, which includes products like ‘Chilli Non Carne’ and ‘Vegsaus Spanish Stew’. Not only has Linda McCartney expanded their product range, they have also created a stronger brand position; with a range which goes past burgers and sausages, Linda McCartney are positioning themselves for a variety meal occasions, such as Sunday roast. Outside of the products themselves, Paul McCartney has founded Meat Free Mondays – an initiative asking us to do “our bit to help the planet”. Hence, Linda McCartney is helping pull the meat free category out of the meat substitute territory, and into good quality meals, which just happen to not contain meat.
When we look at the bigger picture, it looks even more positive. The meat free and free from market combined grew 39% between 2007 and 2012 and continues to grow. Meat-free sales in the UK were expected to reach £607m by the end of 2012, with ready meals making up a third of these (estimated value of £214m). However, there are still hurdles to jump over: 42% of the British population say they don’t like the taste of meat substitutes, whilst 36% think they taste bland.
Therefore, even though the current increase in purchasing of meat free products (specifically burgers, as reported by Holland & Barrett) might be a phase, the rise of the meat free market is not. It is proving itself not only as a provider of a wider range of food for vegetarians, but it is also giving meat eaters viable and interesting alternatives to their carnivorous diets. So, I ask you this: How can meat free brands like these build on their existing market growth in the wake of this scandal? Where there’s a will, there’s always a neigh.