Following yesterday’s news (Monday 23 July) that Quorn is to invest a further £7m in R&D to create more vegan products,
Will Grimwade, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, suggests this is indicative of a wider trend:
“Quorn’s decision to continue to orientate their new products towards the vegan market is further proof that veganism is seen as a meat-free diet to back in the long term, over traditional vegetarianism. Veganism has been better at capturing consumers’ secondary dieting concerns, beyond the environmental and health concerns that prompt them to abandon meat. The cutting of dairy products is popular amongst consumers who are now also concerned about the fat and calorific content of these products and also about the growing awareness of lactose intolerance.
“Veganism has also become interchangeable with the more positive term ‘plant-based’, which helps associate the diet with an abstract desire for a ‘natural’ diet amongst consumers concerned with unhealthy processing and artificial additives.
“The fact that a major player in the vegetarian-but-not-vegan sector such as Quorn, which has traditionally binded its range of mycoprotein products with egg, is conducting a second round of vegan product development suggests the company sees a longer term future in what may have originally been considered a difficult to follow, short-term fad diet.”
According to GlobalData’s consumer surveys around 1.6% of global consumers identified as vegan in 2017, an increase of 61% from 2014. The exponential growth in the number of vegan consumers is only likely to continue due to the diet’s high visibility in social media and popular culture in general. Meanwhile, the number of consumers identifying as vegetarian has fallen by 14% to 5.0% over the same period as the diet loses visibility amongst its competition.
“Extremism in dieting has become more popular, and is being sustained for far longer than it has in the past. For many consumers cutting out dairy and animal products, as well as meat, is the logical conclusion of their health and ethical concerns, so awareness of veganism makes vegetarianism seem insubstantial in comparison. Even the paleo diet, the polar opposite to veganism in that it promotes a meat based diet with no processed grains, is similar to the vegan diet in the extreme lifestyle change. Both speak to consumers in a younger generation who want to be defined by what they eat, and the more restrictive the diet the more kudos is attached to following it.
“The normalising of veganism has made vegetarians look like they have a lack of conviction, and the negative reaction vegetarianism receives from some vegans is furthering this perception. The increasing popularity and visibility of flexitarianism, where consumers try to limit their meat intake without eliminating eating it entirely, has also led to vegetarians occasionally being lumped in this bracket. ‘Vegetarian’ as a label is, therefore, slowly being lost amidst others that appeal to consumers who either have comparatively major or minor ethical and health concerns.”