Increase of vegetarian products shows increase of ‘flexitariasm’

The rise of flexitarianism is being reflected with the number of vegetarian products showcasing their meat-free credentials doubling in three years.

New research from Mintel has found that 12% of global food and drink products launched in 2013 carried a vegetarian claim, up from 6% in 2009. In addition, another 2% of global food and drink launches carried a vegan claim, up from 1% in 2009.

Flexitarianism, the trend to reduce meat consumption on a part-time basis, is increasingly popular, with one in eight (13%) UK meat-buyers claiming they are interested in reducing their meat consumption.

The Mintel report also reveals that 12% of UK adults follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, rising to 20% of 16 to 24s. In the UK alone, Mintel estimates the meat-free food market to have hit £625 million in 2013 and further forecasts it to rise to £657 in 2014, up from £543 million in 2009.

One of the key drivers is the concern about the environment with almost half (48%) of Brits seeing vegetarian products as environmentally friendly and 52% see them as healthy.

Mintel says that: “Globally, the outlook for the meat alternative market is positive and will continue to be driven by an emerging consumer trend towards meat reduction on a part-time basis, entailing increased consumption of plant-based foods without completely cutting out meat. Indeed, many meat-reducing consumers have adopted a flexible attitude, choosing to limit meat, rather than eliminate it entirely. Launches of vegetarian and vegan products echo manufacturers desire to communicate the suitability of their products to the widest range of consumers.”

Rachel Ferguson, senior consultant at specialist food and drink communication consultancy Pelican said: “The rise of flexitarinaism signals many consumers growing concern with the environmental impact of eating meat and dairy products.

“Movements like Meat Free Monday, whilst still relatively small are likely to gain more traction. Brands need to begin to think how they will respond to this change in consumption patterns by demonstrating what they are doing to reduce their environmental impact or developing new meat-free products.”

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