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Vegan UK leading the way, but not quietly

A report commissioned by environment secretary Michael Gove shows the extent to which a vegan diet can have a real effect on greenhouse gases. Mintel says the UK has toppled Germany from its top spot in vegan new product development. A third of UK consumers reduced their meat consumption in the six months to July 2018.

All looking good so far if you exclude the megaphone warriors who picket our supermarkets, including Brighton’s HISBE which deserves better for its ethical and local standpoint. And as Veganuary draws to a close, hats off to the charity which has made a massive impact at the start of 2019.

Michael Gove’s report says that a population turning to healthy diets could result in a 12% reduction in greenhouse gases, moving to vegetarian 26%, and adopting veganism 36%. A pipe dream of course, but it shows the potential impact on food and farming when you consider that the UK generates the equivalent of around 1bn tons of CO2 a year.

And the Mintel Global New Products Database reports that UK vegan new product development (NPD) is flourishing with the highest number of new vegan food products launched in 2018, toppling Germany from its number one spot. One in six (16%) food products launched in the UK in 2018 had a vegan/no animal ingredients claim, doubling from just 8% in 2015. One in ten (9%) food products launched in Europe in 2018 had a vegan/no animal ingredients claim, doubling from 5% in 2015.

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

Edward Bergen, Global Food and Drinks Analyst at Mintel, says: “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.

“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.”

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