The UK’s major supermarkets have ramped up their vegan offerings in response to rising consumer demand.
Initiatives like ‘Meat Free Mondays’ are causing more people to look for alternatives as they turn away from animal products.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have taken proactive steps to increase product availability for vegan and vegetarian products.
According to a spokesperson for Tesco:
“In the last year demand for vegetarian and vegan food has soared and Tesco is seeing the effect of lifestyle choices like Meat Free Mondays and flexitarian diets with sales of chilled vegetarian ready meals and meat substitutes growing by 25%”
The retailer has responded accordingly by doubling its veggie and vegan Christmas ranges, as well as hiring Derek Sarno as their Director of Plant Based Innovation. He was quoted as saying:
“These are changing times and vegetable dishes have now become centrepiece heroes in their own right on dinner tables up and down the country. This year, Tesco’s Christmas campaign celebrates the many ways we come together at Christmas, and with the quality of vegetarian and vegan food now so good there may even be squabbles across the dinner table over who gets what.”
Tesco’s Free From range includes cheese alternatives we proudly produce here at Bute Island Foods and we’re delighted to see such great uptake of our growing selection of textures and flavours on offer.
Waitrose teamed up with Dutch brand The Vegetarian Butcher earlier this year and offers its biggest ever range of meat-free food, launching 11 new vegan products including tofu, ‘pulled pork’ and cream ‘cheese’.
Chloe Graves, Vegetarian Buyer at Waitrose said:
“Vegetarian meals are one of our fastest growing categories, with sales up 14% year on year, and we know this will only get bigger. By working with The Vegetarian Butcher, we can offer our shoppers a first-to-market high quality replacement protein that is more akin to the texture of meat than anything we have stocked before.”
Sainsbury’s has experienced huge success with its own range brand of vegan cheese, with sales exceeding expectations by 300% after its launch last year. Speaking about the surprise figures, a spokesperson said:
“Free From food, once a niche market… grew over 18% to become a £770m industry. One of the most popular items was vegan cheese, or as one Sainsbury’s customer so fondly called it, Gary. Sainsbury’s 7 varieties of cheese alternatives exceeded sales expectations by 300% in the first month after its September launch”
This is all great news for the growing number of people changing their eating habits to reduce or remove their intake of animal based products, and a trend that looks increasingly likely to continue as we move into 2018.