As interest in vegan diets continues to grow, customers have started to wonder about how healthy vegan products are. In response to this rising awareness, GlobalData – an analytics company – has issued a series of recommendations for vegan product manufacturers.
According to a survey conducted by GlobalData in Q3 2018, 3% of consumers in the UK described their diet as being vegan. The figure, albeit being moderate, is larger than the global 2%.
“Growth in the vegan food sector comes mostly from the rise of the number of flexitarian consumers willing to stick to a vegan diet for a period of time or a few days each week”, explains Aleksandrina Yotova, consumer analyst at GlobalData. “This has led to more vegan products being released with a number of major brands and private labels launching vegan options in their line-up. While these products are better for animal welfare, not all vegan foods are healthier than the standard options and this is noticed by consumers,” Yotova adds.
In consequence, GlobalData urges plant-based food manufacturers to consider reducing sugar and salt levels in their products, as well as minimizing the use of allergens and including ingredients that are beneficial to a vegan diet.
According to the report, M&S’s Plant Kitchen vegan lineup came under scrutiny for featuring allergy labeling that contradicts the vegan nature of the products and could also potentially represent a risk for allergy sufferers. Complaints on social media dating from earlier this month revealed that some meal options had written on the package in small print “not suitable for milk and egg allergy sufferers.” This appears to imply that non-vegan ingredients might have been included in the range.
Additionally, Greggs’ vegan “sausage” roll was reportedly found to contain more salt than the original.
“As consumer want vegan products to be healthier alternatives to meat and dairy, the lack of clarity will be off-putting for some. Future trends in vegan food will follow the same philosophy that consumers apply to eating in general: eat whole, real foods with as little processing as possible. Vegan food products will need to keep this philosophy central to their product formulations, as many have been doing for decades,” concludes Yotova.