From Trend to Normality

Vegan, vegetarian, plant-based and other food labels might have claims that sometimes overlap, but they still offer plenty of distinct options to consumers. This is a market that thrives on innovation, as the possibilities offered by today’s manufacturing technologies are virtually endless. How does the market currently stand and, more importantly, what does the future hold?

The size of the global vegan food market was estimated at USD16.55bn in 2022, and it is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 10.7% from 2023 to 2030. According to Grand View Research, the main driver of the growth is rising public awareness of the advantages of adopting a vegan diet. People are being urged to switch to plant-based diets due to growing concerns about animal welfare and cruelty. Thus, there is a rise in the consumption of vegan cuisine as a result of customers’ shifting preferences. The category of plant-based foods did well in recent years, even during the 2020 lockdowns.

For instance, an online food shop named ShelfNow reported a 156% increase in sales of vegetarian meals and a 150% increase in sales of vegan meals between 2020 and 2021. Additionally, the sales of vegan food at different grocery stores significantly increased, supporting the market’s expansion, as per Grand View Research’s report. Due to the high cost of plant-based ingredients used in the production, vegan food is more expensive to produce than food based on animals. This aspect is anticipated to limit the uptake of edible vegan products in low- and middle-income nations. However, a number of important firms are implementing cutting-edge technology to significantly improve the flavors and textures of plant-based meals, which are anticipated to offer major growth prospects. For instance, the food technology business Motif FoodWorks, Inc. is developing plant-based cheese and meat using prolamin and extrudable fat technologies. The rising acceptance of plant-based foods worldwide also contributes to the market’s expansion, Grand View Research analysts write.

This suggests that veganism is gaining popularity on a global scale. For instance, the UK, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, and Austria are among the top regions with interest in veganism, according to Google Trends data from 2004 to 2022. Additionally, there has been a decline in consumer meat consumption. For instance, 23% of Americans reported eating less meat in 2019 compared to 2018, according to a 2020 Gallup Poll. Additionally, the consumer base of this industry has grown as a result of growing knowledge of the different health benefits provided by plant-based food items.

In 2022, the offline distribution channel had a higher proportion of over 83.8%. Convenience stores, specialty stores, hypermarkets, and supermarkets are all included in this section. Overall product sales have increased due to the abundance of supermarkets and hypermarkets. A total of 14,623 supermarkets, including Walmart, The Kroger Co., and others, are present in the United States, according to data released by ScrapeHero in November 2021. Shoppers choose buying at physical grocery stores because of accessibility and availability. Plus, a variety of domestic and foreign brands’ products are widely available, and consumers may physically check a product’s specifications before making a purchase.

The Market Sees Plenty of Innovation

Germany-based Frostkrone introduces five trendy snacks which maximize the potato. The range is called Crispy Veggie Snacks and their golden brown coating envelops a filling of potato mousse. According to the company, the products that can be enjoyed either on their own as sticks include the Crispy Potato Sticks (crunchy potato enjoyed neat as a snack paired with the right dip or as a side dish); and Crispy & Spicy Potato Sticks (the combination of potato and chilli in a crispy coating that comes as a practical stick). Or, some can be served with their ingredients blended together as balls and bites, such as: Crispy Queso Potato Balls (the crunchy, golden brown coating envelops the potato mousse and the rich and tangy nacho cheese); Crispy Garlic Potato Balls (round, crispy and vegetarian: tasty potato mousse encircling a heart of mild cream cheese); and Crispy Beetroot Bites (the typical potato taste is married together here with the slightly tart flavour of beetroot). All products are pre-baked and deep-frozen. They are easy to prepare and have a long shelf life. They also work fine for catering purposes: as a little snack to start or as an accompaniment to salads, burgers, or veggie schnitzels. The Crispy Veggie Snacks can be prepared in the oven, in a hot air fryer or in a deep fryer. They turn golden brown within a few minutes and are ready to eat immediately. They all have a long best-before date.

The plant-only ingredient and spice burger brand Actual Veggies is securing its position in the market for plant-based proteins. Announcing the nationwide debut of its most recent frozen inventions, the Black Bean Veggie Burger and the Super Greens Veggie Burger, Actual Veggies is building on its excellent growth trajectory and brand refresh. In 2020, Actual Veggies made its QVC debut. The brand quickly gained popularity, and USD75,000 worth of items were gone in less than eight minutes. The business expanded its online presence and joined major chains, producing more than USD1m in sales in its first year. Major investors have taken notice of Actual Veggies, which has so far raised USD5m while tripling its yearly revenue every year. Over the past year, there has been a decline in the demand for imitation meat. The Natural Channel’s category of frozen and refrigerated plant-based meat burgers has seen a remarkable 338.2% increase, cementing Actual Veggies’ place as one of the top brands in the market. Due to its good growth and solid financial support, the company has made progress, including entering the freezer market, implementing a brand refresh, and expanding distribution to Whole Foods Market. Due to this expanded retail rollout, Actual Veggies products are now available in over 2,600 doors.

Another plant-based manufacturer, allplants has launched three new dishes, all remakes of classics – Mexican Chilli, Tikka Masala, and Arrabiata. They’re packed with high-protein, vibrant, nutritious and wholefood ingredients, without compromising on flavour. allplants’ dishes are 100% plant-based and made by their team of chefs in North London. The dishes are flash-frozen, ensuring nutrition and taste are locked in. The new dishes on the allplants menu include Mexican Chilli with Chipotle + Rice, Aubergine Tikka Masala with Pilau Rice, and Pasta Arrabiata in a Rich Tomato Sauce.

Frozen food distributor Central Foods has launched the KaterVeg! vegan cocktail sausage roll for the food service sector. The 15g KaterVeg! vegan cocktail sausage rolls are available in packs of 200 and simply need baking off before serving. They are available ready-glazed and ready to bake – offering food service operators a mini version of the 4inch and 6inch KaterVeg! vegan sausage rolls also supplied by Central Foods. “The demand for tasty plant-based products continues, both from those who don’t eat meat and flexitarians who are reducing their meat intake, and this new product launch will help food service operators to serve tasty vegan options to their guests, but which will also be suitable for all,” according to Gordon Lauder, managing director of Central Foods.

Redefine Meat, a pioneer of new-meat, is also stepping up delivery of its most comprehensive line of plant-based products to eight wholesaler partners in response to increased demand for “meat” in the UK. Albion Fine Foods, Braehead Foods, Brakes, Classic Fine Foods, Elite Fine Foods, Food Republic, Forest Produce, and Zebra Plant Based are Redefine Meat’s eight UK wholesalers. Redefine Meat offers a variety of premium whole cuts, mince-based products, and pulled meats to foodservices nationwide. These products have received international endorsements from Michelin-starred chefs, steakhouses, fine dining establishments, and hotel chains for a level of taste and texture comparable to high-quality animal meat. Redefine Meat’s new-meat is for customers looking to minimize their intake of traditional meat, whether they are vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or even meat lovers. It comes in a variety of flavors, including a succulent new-meat flank steak, authentic lamb kofta, slow-cooked pulled pork, juicy burger, and an authentic minced product. The portfolio’s flexibility makes it the perfect choice for upscale dining establishments aiming to provide more diversified sustainable options to more informal eating establishments in search of minced goods with the flavor and consistency of traditional meat. The tasty and high-quality meat portfolio encourages culinary innovation at every level of cuisine and supports sustainable eating by giving guests the same sensory experience by providing the flavor, smell, and texture of traditional meat.

Multi-award-winning brand Oumph! also recently introduced a plant-based smash burger. The concept-driven product succeeds in capturing all the traditional components of a smash burger, including juiciness, flavor, and crispness. The new burger will be introduced into foodservice and supermarket retail in the Nordics and all other markets where Oumph! is already available, with launches in the Netherlands and the UK coming soon, according to LIVEKINDLY Collective, of which Oumph! is a part. The Oumph! Smash Burger will be sold in supermarkets in addition to foodservice establishments initially.

Still space for growth

According to a Euromonitor report, consumers who strictly adhere to veganism and vegetarianism still make up a small portion of the population, but by 2020, those who avoided animal-based meals made up more than 40% of all consumers worldwide. In general, health and animal rights are the two main reasons people choose these diets, although there are regional variations. For example, while more ethical considerations undoubtedly predominate in markets like the UK and Germany, health considerations are as significant in the US and Australia. The COVID-19 epidemic has increased the demand for plant-based foods.

Retail sales of products like milk substitutes and meat substitutes have increased dramatically, especially in Western nations. Price is still a major obstacle to acceptance, though, as plant-based products are much more expensive than their animal-based equivalents. Reduced discretionary incomes make it more crucial than ever to close the price gap. Vegetarian and vegan claims (or “dairy-free” in the case of dairy substitutes) are significantly more common than the “plant-based” claim in terms of positioning. Plant-based ingredients are seen as more welcoming and alluring by a wider range of consumers; however, combining them with a vegan claim or trademark can increase customer confidence and add transparency regarding the product’s 100% plant-based composition.