What you need to know

2016 marked a major turning point for the meat-free foods market, which is now flourishing after several years in the doldrums. Volume sales have increased by 22% over 2015-18, accompanied by a value growth of 34% to reach an estimated £740 million in 2018. While meat eating remains ingrained among UK consumers, many are becoming more vigilant about how much they consume; 34% of meat eaters have reduced or limited the amount they eat in the six months to July 2018.

Health reasons, the growing awareness about the environmental impact of meat production and ethical concerns are among a number of motivations for cutting back on meat consumption. The rising profile of plant-based foods, these enjoying strong natural associations and nutritious credentials and becoming increasingly “foodie” in their appeal, has also underpinned the sharp turnaround in the market.

The fact that 56% of meat eaters have eaten any meat-free foods in the six months to July 2018 shows that the appeal of these foods extends far beyond the limited pool of consumers who do not eat meat. Meanwhile, a raft of NPD (New Product Development) from brands and retailers over 2017-18, and a surge in advertising spend on meat-free foods, has helped to fuel growth and signals the confidence that companies have in the longevity of the trend. This looks to be warranted; Mintel estimates that the value of the meat-free market will increase by a further 44% over 2018-23 to £1,069 million, while volume sales are anticipated to grow by 30% over the next five years.

Products covered in this Report

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

This Report covers the retail market for meat-free foods or vegetarian foods for in-home consumption.

The market size includes meat substitutes, or dishes made using meat substitutes, including ready meals, sausages, burgers, shaped products, deli ingredients (eg vegetarian mince), pastry products and snacks.

Meat substitutes are products often made from textured vegetable protein, such as soy, that imitate the texture, flavour and appearance of certain types of meat, such as beef, poultry or fish. This includes products such as mycoprotein-based Quorn. However, they can also be made with plant-based ingredients which do not try to imitate meat, such as vegetable or bean burgers.

Although mainstream dishes suitable for vegetarians such as vegetarian soups are referenced in the Report, the market size does not include these.

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