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According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the ‘appetite for meat and dairy alternatives is growing as more and more people look for a wider variety of meals’.
“Therefore, industry is being urged to look at new and innovative ways to market meat and dairy products and work together throughout the supply chain to stay in favour with consumers,” AHDB said.
Veganism receives a disproportionate amount of media attention – relative to its number of adherents, according to AHDB Senior Consumer Insight Analyst Susie Stannard, who described meat and dairy as cornerstones of the British diet.
She added: “In our recent qualitative research on young consumers, we found that although many young people were open to veganism and found the ideals aspirational, when they actually tried it they encountered barriers in terms of cost, taste and how it made them feel.
“But we found that many more people are interested in taking on board some elements of a plant-based diet even if they are not willing to commit full-time.”
Producers have been quick to tap into the trend of meat eaters opting for vegan food. According to a recent survey, 28 percent of Brits identify themselves as ‘meat reducers’ – it is these people who are largely being targeted by new ranges of food being launched in UK supermarkets.
A good example of this is vegan mince from Danish brand Naturli’ Foods. The product is currently being merchandised alongside animal meat in the meat aisle. According to the brand, it is trying to appeal to a broad base of consumers, saying this move puts the focus of the product onto the usage, and not the origin.
A Naturli’ Foods spokesperson said: “We believe that every step in the right direction counts, and that is why we take pride in helping the vegan, the flexitarian or just your everyday omnivore making plant-based choices in the food aisle. Our goal is to deliver 100 percent plant-based foods that tastes amazing and by placing the plant-based Minced and Patties next to the meats, we believe we’re making it easier for people to try a plant-based meal.”
Short term cost
The AHDB’s Susie Stannard is encourage producers to invest more cash in a bid to win back custom from meat reducers and flexitarians – highlighting the potential long term gain.
She said: “There are changes on the horizon but, as yet, British consumers, by and large, are maintaining their desire to eat meat and dairy. But there are opportunities to be had in moving beyond commoditization of meat and dairy and looking towards more brand and solution-led marketing.
“We have also found that in order to retain consumers’ trust in and demand for meat and dairy production, the industry will need to commit to working together throughout the supply chain. Investment in driving down environmental impacts, more ethical methods of production and paying closer attention to product quality will cost more in the short term but, if meat and dairy alternatives end up being a viable, acceptable tasting and cost-effective option for consumers, then this could become the price of entry.”