Red meat health concerns drive UK meat-free market

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Meat substitutes are on the up in the UK
Meat substitutes are on the up in the UK

Related tags: United kingdom

Health concerns about the consumption of red meat are the top driver for a booming meat-free market in the UK, which has grown 20% over the past five years, according to market research organisation Mintel.

The market researcher says that 15% of British people now choose to avoid red meat, with most of them doing so due to health and lifestyle reasons. Meanwhile, about 6% of British people describe themselves as vegetarians, and 2% avoid red meat due to an allergy or intolerance.

Senior food and drink analyst at Mintel Amy Price said in a statement: “Perfectly positioned to thrive in the current climate, meat-free foods benefit from a cost, health, ethical and environmental stand as well as providing variety in consumer diets. The rising cost of meat has propped up past performance and could act as a boost to the meat-free market in the future.”

Mintel estimated the value of the meat-free market at £607m (about €752m) in 2012, with around a third of sales in the ready meals segment. Pastry and snacks round out the top three meat-free foods by sales value, it said.

Chilled foods account for 70% of sales, and frozen make up the remaining 30%.

Thirty-eight per cent of British people say they have bought vegetarian or meat-free foods, while 13% say they buy vegetarian or meat-free foods as a cheaper alternative to meat, fish or poultry.

“The sizeable group of health-conscious consumers are ripe for targeting through vegetarian or meat-free foods and meat substitutes, possibly along the lines of ‘stealth health’, encouraging families to swap a meat-based meal for one that is vegetarian and therefore better for them,” ​Price said.

In addition, two per cent of the UK population avoids red meat because they have an allergy or intolerance.

However, the meat-free market still faces challenges, particularly with taste perception. Mintel said that more than a third of British people (36%) think that vegetarian foods taste bland, while 42% say that they do not like meat substitutes.

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1 comment


Posted by Deirdre Balaam,

Since your headline includes the word 'red' I think that should be stressed. I'd like to see the figures on poultry consumption. If 8% of the population say they do not eat red meat, then what meat is the remaining percentage (92%) eating?
Does the 'red' meat avoidance coincide with the rise in applications for factory pig farms?

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