UK overtakes Germany as world’s leader for vegan food launches

According to a new report, the UK has just overtaken Germany as the global leader for vegan food launches.

Published 10th Jan 2019
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Less than two weeks into Veganuary, market research website Mintel has released new data showing that the UK is now dominating global vegan new product development.

As many as one in six (16 per cent) food products launched in the UK in 2018 had a vegan/no animal ingredients claim, doubling from just 8 per cent in 2015.

A mature and saturated market, Germany has seen wilting numbers of vegan food NPD, with the total share of food launches classified as vegan falling from 15 per cent in 2017 to 13 per cent in 2018.

Overall, one in ten (9 per cent) food products launched in Europe in 2018 had a vegan/no animal ingredients claim, doubling from 5 per cent in 2015.

Flexitarianism on the rise in the UK

The report also found that one in three (34 per cent) British meat eaters reduced their meat consumption in the six months to July 2018 following a flexitarian approach, up from 28 per cent who had done so in 2017.

Digesting the facts, 31 per cent of British consumers say recent news articles make a convincing argument for giving up meat.

Sales of non-dairy milk also grew 9.4 per cent from £202 million in 2016 to £221 million in 2017. Meanwhile, one in ten (9 per cent) Brits drank plant-based milk in the three months to February 2018, rising to 27 per cent of consumers aged 25-34.

However, it wasn't all good news for the vegan sector with four in ten (39 per cent) British diners stating that they found vegan meals to be boring and overpriced.

Edward Bergen, global food and drinks analyst at Mintel: “For a number of years Germany led the world for launches of vegan products. However, 2018 saw the UK take the helm. Germany has certainly plateaued, likely driven by a flooded market with little room to grow further. The UK, by contrast, has seen a huge promotion of vegan choices in restaurants and supermarkets.

"The most poignant of these is the expansion of supermarket own-label options with dedicated vegan ranges in mainstream stores. Additional space is also being freed up by UK supermarkets in the on-the-go aisles and small format stores to help promote vegan food and drink, making it easier for meat-eating consumers to try these new concepts out.

New Edinburgh bars and restaurants - including Sushisamba and Montrose from Timberyard team

“Meanwhile, initiatives like ‘Veganuary’ and ‘meat-less Monday’ allow consumers to flirt with veganism without the long-term commitment. As more people reduce their meat intake, they experiment with more plant-based dishes catering for their flexitarian lifestyles - whether at home, on-the-go or in restaurants.

"Moreover, consumers are becoming more willing than ever to expand their comfort zones, push themselves to the limit with new experiences and use social media to compete with and offer inspiration to their peers.”

Main picture credit: Ella Olsson/Flickr

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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