It’s funny; with all the noise about it, you’d think the entire world is going vegan.

At the London Food and Drink Conference 2019, there was of course much discussion about growth in meat-free lifestyles. It is also fascinating to see the wide variety of innovations coming out in this space; catching up with L’Aquila and their range of vegan alternatives, including bamboo shoot calamari and barbecue pulled jackfruit, has certainly whet the appetite for what’s around the corner in this space.

There was, however, a word of caution from several speakers about the excitement around the vegan trend.

  • Marketing Director for Quorn Foods Alex Glen affirmed that 90% of the category growth comes from people who try to reduce their meat consumption, not vegans.
  • He also reminded us that those choosing to be strict vegans for ethical reasons are not a growing population. It’s the flexitarians who are, with a 5% year-on-year growth in the UK.
  • Kyrsten Halley, Head of the Ryvita Brand, also showed some stats claiming that 92% of plant-based meals are eaten by non vegans.

So while the vegan movement is increasingly loud and visible, it is still primarily an urban-focused, younger consumer trend, and not (yet) a common dietary preference for the wider mainstream. This echoes what my colleague Emeline Mettavant, also speaker at the same conference, was saying earlier this year: Veganuary was a fad, but flexitarianism is the real new trend.

This doesn’t mean, however, that brands should deprioritise the vegan trend. It just means they should capitalise on it in a nuanced way that remains authentic to their brand.

BY ENGINEER Tom Speed

tom.speed@thevalueengineers.com