Vegetarians and vegans call for more product choices

Monday, 06 August, 2018

Vegetarians and vegans call for more product choices

The number of people adopting more plant-based diets is increasing and there has been a growth in product development to address this. But this may not be happening fast enough, as research has shown that vegetarians and vegans are unhappy with the choice of food products available to them.

Commissioned by Ingredient Communications, Surveygoo conducted an online survey of 1000 consumers (500 in the UK and US) and found that while there is still a relatively small number of vegetarians and vegans, many more people are planning to change their diets.

Of those surveyed, 4% reported they were vegetarian, 3% pescatarian and 4% said they were vegan, which rose to 6% in the US and 13% among 18- to 24-year-olds. However, 90% of vegetarians in the US and 33% in the UK said they were considering veganism, while more than four in 10 meat-eaters also said they intend to reduce or eliminate their meat consumption.

This highlights the new, more flexible approaches which incorporate vegan products into the diet, such as ‘flexitarians’ or pescatarians.

Dietary choices are fuelled by a range of reasons, including animal welfare, which influenced 69% of vegans and 64% of vegetarians, and health concerns, which influenced 48% of vegans and 54% of vegetarians.

Despite more people choosing plant-based foods, the survey revealed that 46% of vegans and 23% of vegetarians said they were dissatisfied with food and beverage choices.

“Our research indicates the scale and pace of the shift towards vegetable-based diets. Whatever the reason for their choices — ethical, environmental or health related ― many consumers expect the food industry to do more to keep up with them,” said Richard Clarke, Founder and Managing Director of Ingredient Communications. “For manufacturers of both finished products and ingredients, it’s clear that there are rewards for putting greater focus on the needs of vegans and vegetarians.”

The level of dissatisfaction with product choices was higher in the US than the UK: for vegans, it was 50% and 36% respectively, and with vegetarians it was 31% and 15%.

According to Principal of Kaiviti Consulting Dr Mark JS Miller, this could be because American consumers have higher expectations of product availability, and the industry should be doing more to accommodate this rising demand.

“The merger of two related tracks are likely to be contributing to these trends,” Miller said. “One is the trend of expected convenience, where I can get what I want when I want it, which has been fuelled by the Amazon phenomenon. The other trend is the desire for personalised health choices. Neither trend is likely to abate, and so this level of dissatisfaction amongst American vegans and vegetarians is likely to continue until the market is nimble enough to adjust to the demands.”

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