Vegan food booms

Plant-based food is on the menu for the big producers as demand soars

The breaded shrimp has all the flavours you would expect: salty, sweet and with a slight fibrous feel. However, despite looking and tasting the part, the dish served by Nestlé at a showcase of its newest products last week is called “vrimp” and it does not include any seafood. Among its ingredients are seaweed and peas.

Imitation dishes such as this are springing up on supermarket shelves across the world as rapidly growing demand for alternatives to animal products drives a shift at the world’s biggest food makers. Whereas once “meatless burgers” and dairy-free milk were limited to challenger brands such as Beyond Meat and Oatly, global giants are now ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds into playing catch-up.

A quarter of the 2,000 people polled said the pandemic had made eating vegan or plant-based food and drink more appealing to them.

Shoppers spent £100m more in 2020 on alt-milks, with sales driven by environmental and health concerns

Discount supermarket chain Lidl has trademarked a range of vegan products including pastries and baguettes, while restaurant chains Honest Burger and Leon also entered the fray for meat substitutes and plant-based condiments. The furniture chain Ikea will next month start selling “plant balls”; versions of its eponymous meatballs made from pea protein.

Sainsbury’s, which has trademarked its mushroom-based “shroomdog”, reported double-digit growth of its plant-based and meat-free range. Rosie Bambaji, plant-based buyer at Sainsbury’s said: “We expect to see this area continue to grow as we emerge out of lockdown.”

Tesco said it had launched more than 30 new plant-based products across its Wicked Kitchen and Plant Chef ranges in June, including BBQ, Asian-inspired and meal kits. Plant-based barbecue options had proved very popular during the recent hot weather, it said.

Companies can also apply to use the Vegan Society’s sunflower logo, for which they pay a licensing fee based on turnover. A spokeswoman said: “We have only recently starting reporting by category but the number of fashion products registered has doubled so far in 2020. Drinks, household and toiletry products are our next biggest growth categories.”

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer


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