The meat and dairy production sector is being encouraged to look at new ways to market produce as meat eating consumers turn to vegan food options.
This follows the launch of a report by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) which looks at the factors driving media attention to the plant-based food trend and how this will impact future prospects for the meat and dairy industries in the UK.
According to AHDB/YouGov’s consumer tracker with figures from Kantar, 91% of British households purchase red meat. Some 7% of the population classify themselves as vegetarian, while 4% are pescetarian. Flexitarians – those who cut down on meat consumption for health reasons – make up a further 7% of the population.
Vegans make up 2% of the UK population, but consumers are increasingly looking for meat and dairy free alternatives to “try something new”. The report showed that there are currently more plant-based products than ever before.
The research showed a high crossover in the purchase of meat and dairy alternatives, with almost half of Quorn sales being made by meat-eaters. Figures also show that 45% of dairy alternative occasions also feature a dairy product.
Food manufacturers and retailers have responded to the growing demands for plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy as meat substitute product launches accounted for almost 14% of all new ‘meat’ launches tracked in Western Europe.
AHDB said to retain customers the industry must move beyond the commoditisation of meat and dairy and “look towards more brand and solution-led marketing”. The association also said that the sector needed to “retain consumers’ trust” in meat and dairy production” by committing to “working together throughout the supply chain”.
AHDB senior consumer insight analyst, Susie Stannard, said: “Only a tiny minority of the population are actually vegan, with meat and dairy remaining cornerstones of the British diet. But veganism receives a disproportionate amount of media attention and we wanted to explore what’s driving this attention and how it plays out in the marketplace.
“Investment in driving down environmental impacts, more ethical methods of production and paying closer attention to product quality will cost more in the short term but, if meat and dairy alternatives end up being a viable, acceptable tasting and cost-effective option for consumers, then this could become the price of entry.”