The rise and rise of meat alternatives!

Veganuary has now well and truly passed but consumers have never been more savvy about what they eat and their impact on the planet.  There has been a huge increase in vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian converts.  In January 2020, over 40,000 people signed up to Veganuary compared with 25,000 in 2019.

Innovative businesses and organisations have been quick to pick up on this trend and market to changing consumer demands.  Brands such as ‘Impossible’,  ‘Beyond Meat’ and ‘Moving Mountains’ have developed meat free alternatives that have taken vegan options to the next level.  Partnering with fast food giants such as Burger King, KFC and McDonalds, these relatively new businesses have experienced massive growth, popularity and profits!

Organisations quick to respond to changing consumer demands have reaped the rewards like never before.  When Burger King launched its plant based burger in the US, sales soared by 10% according to QSR.  Its biggest increase in revenues and profits since 2015.  Burger King recently launched its plant based whopper in the UK to great fan-fare but soon became embroiled in negative publicity by announcing that plant based burgers are cooked on the same grill as meat burgers.

Tony Vernelli, international head of communications and marketing at Veganuary, said the plant-based Whopper was aimed at “flexitarians who want to reduce their meat consumption for health or environmental reasons”, or for those “considering going vegan”. Depending on your point of view,  Burger King’s marketing director, Katie Evans has described the launch of its plant based burger as a “game changer”.

Greggs made headlines with its vegan sausage roll and brilliant marketing campaign that catapulted the brand to a whole new audience. Subsequently capitalising on consumer demand for all things vegan by launching  its meat free ‘steak’ bake and doughnuts.  However, there have been rumblings about how healthy meat alternatives really are?  Greggs vegan sausage roll has 311 calories while the meat based version has 317 so not a huge difference.

So what’s the future for meat free products?  Looking good by all accounts, Co-op expects the vegan food market to be worth a whopping £1 billion!  Tesco has experienced a 40% rise in demand for vegan food and demand is soaring at all major supermarkets.  However, a recent article in Marketing Week has cautioned brands not to get diluted in the onslaught of developing new vegan products.  As with all good marketing it’s all about being fully aware of your external environment, understanding and meeting your customers changing needs, whilst ensuring that you don’t cannibalise your own products.

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