According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, Germany had previously led the way as the world’s leading nation for plant-based proteins.
However, with influences from the media and initiatives such as ‘Veganuary’ and ‘meat-less Mondays’, the UK has bolstered its plant-based market to gain the top spot.
Described as a “mature and saturated market” by Mintel, Germany’s vegan food launches declined by 2% from 2017 to 2018. Only one in ten (9%) food products launched in Europe in 2018 had no animal ingredients.
Meanwhile, in the UK, one in six (16%) food products launched in 2018 had no animal ingredients. Thirty-one per cent of UK consumers also revealed that news articles made a “convincing argument” for giving up meat.
Celebrity influences, such as pop star Ariana Grande and global actor Benedict Cumberbatch turning to plant-based diets for ‘Veganuary’, have also played a major factor in the sharp rise of interest from the UK.
Mintel’s global food and drinks analyst Edward Bergen said the decline of the sector in Germany had plateaued, with flooded markets and little room to expand, while the UK had witnessed huge promotion for plant-based options in supermarkets and restaurants.
“The most poignant of these [UK promotions] is the expansion of supermarket own-label options, with dedicated vegan ranges in mainstream stores. Additional space is also being freed up by UK supermarkets in the on-the-go aisles and small format stores to help promote vegan food and drink, making it easier for meat-eating consumers to try these new concepts out,” said Bergen.
He added: “Meanwhile, initiatives like ‘Veganuary’ and ‘meat-less Monday’ allow consumers to flirt with veganism without the long-term commitment. As more people reduce their meat intake, they experiment with more plant-based dishes catering for their flexitarian lifestyles - whether at home, on-the-go or in restaurants. Moreover, consumers are becoming more willing than ever to expand their comfort zones, push themselves to the limit with new experiences and use social media to compete with and offer inspiration to their peers.”
It seems the only way is up for plant-based proteins in the UK, with Mintel predicting value sales of the meat-free market will reach £1.1 billion by 2023.