Vegan foods, kombucha continue to rise in popularity

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

In recent years, the number of vegetarian and vegan foods available in Australia has soared. Between 2014 and 2016 there was a 92% increase in the number of food products launched in Australia carrying a vegan claim, and an 8% increase in the number of products launched carrying a vegetarian claim, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

As many as one in eight (12%) food products launched in Australia in 2016 carried a vegetarian claim, while 6% held a vegan claim. This rise in vegetarian and vegan friendly launches reflects the changing diet of Australian consumers, with one in seven (14%) saying that they avoided or intended to avoid red meat in 2016.

“Although Australia is still one of the largest meat-eating populations globally, health and environmental concerns, along with cost, have changed Australians’ attitudes when it comes to meat consumption. Australians have become more mindful in recent years of the amount of meat and the frequency with which they eat meat,” said Laura Jones, trend and innovation consultant at Mintel.

Beverages, too, are being impacted by the national health kick, with an increasing number of alcoholic drinks showcasing ‘healthy’ attributes. While just 2% of alcoholic drinks launched in Australia in 2015 held a low, no or reduced sugar claim, this increased to 7% of alcohol launches in 2016. In the same time period, the proportion of these drinks launched with a low, no or reduced carb claim rose from 1% to 4%, while the proportion holding a gluten-free claim rose from 1% to 3%.

Many consumers are opting to forego or restrict alcohol intake altogether. Mintel’s Consumer Metro Study 2016 showed that only 11% of Australians aged 18 and over are spending more on alcohol at home compared to a year ago, in contrast to 27% who are spending less. This trend is more exaggerated when going out, with 7% spending more compared to 35% spending less.

The result has been a slump in beer sales, which have been in decline in Australia since 2009 according to Mintel Market Sizes data. Volume consumption per capita is forecast to fall to 48.09 L in 2017, down from 60.73 L in 2009.

Perhaps some former beer drinkers are now sampling kombucha, one of the hottest new drink trends. Australia played host to the second-highest number of kombucha drink launches globally in 2016, just behind the USA. More than three in four (78%) launches of these drinks in 2016 featured an organic claim, with half (51%) claiming to be gluten-free and 16% featuring a low, no or reduced sugar formulation.

“Kombucha is proving to be a beverage that defies definition and will ultimately compete with other functional and probiotic beverages. While, in essence, it is a tea drink, many brands use fruit juices and superfoods to enhance health credentials. Expansion into other fermented beverages such as kefir and drinking vinegar is emerging as an innovation pathway for kombucha brands looking for growth,” said Jodie Minotto, senior global food trends analyst at Mintel.

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