Flexitarian trend opportunity for manufacturers

28% of Brits had reduced their meat intake over the past six months

Food manufacturers could benefit from the growing flexitarian trend towards eating less meat, after it was revealed that more than a quarter of UK shoppers had cut their meat consumption over the past six months.

An investigation by market analyst Mintel revealed 28% of meat-eating Brits had cut their consumption in the six months to March 2017, and 14% said they were interested in reducing their consumption in the future.

Mintel senior food analyst Emma Clifford said: “Despite the ingrained popularity of meat and poultry, a clear trend has emerged of people cutting back and limiting how much of these products they eat. That ‘flexitarianism’, a whole new dietary phrase, coined to describe this movement, also highlights its indisputably mainstream status.

‘Unrestricted middle-ground’

“The flexitarian trend carves a very accessible and unrestricted middle-ground between simply meat-eaters and non-meat eaters, while acknowledging a conscious effort to eat less meat.”

Half of those cutting, or considering cutting, their meat consumption were motivated by health benefits, Mintel said. Managing weight was the second most popular reason for reducing meat intake, cited by 29% of those surveyed, while animal welfare concerns and the environment were both equal motivators (24%).

What is flexatarianism?
  • A flexitarian has a mainly plant based diet, but eats small amounts of, probably higher standard, meat, fish and dairy

Source: Friends of the Earth

The meat-free market was already showing signs of recovery, after a 14% and 10% fall in sales during 2012 and 2015, respectively, Mintel said. Last year, volume sales increased 2% year-on-year, while price rises meant value sales increased 4% to £559M.

Sales to reach £658M

The flexitarian market was expected to hit £572M this year, Mintel predicted. Value sales would reach £658M by 2021, the market analyst forecasted.

“A number of factors have been at play helping to reverse the fortunes of the meat-free category,” said Clifford. “Lifestyle trends are helping to broaden the appeal of these products, most notably many consumers are becoming more vigilant about the amount of meat in their diet.

“Increased innovation, with a big new product development push from brands in 2016, and growing mainstream availability of these products, has also underpinned this positive performance.”

Meanwhile, last month, EEF revealed veganism had risen 257% in popularity between 2010 and 2016, while vegetarianism increased 25%.

Flexitarianism trend – at a glance
  • 28% cut meat consumption in six months to March
  • 14% interested in cutting meat in the future
  • 49% cut meat for health benefits

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