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As it's National Vegetarian Week 2019, retailers across the nation are renewing their efforts to make shopping more inclusive of alternative diets. According to new research, Brits ate 150 million more meat-free meals in 2018 than the year before. Ubamarket, the supermarket shopping app championing ‘scan, pay, go’ technology, has commissioned nationally representative research across 2005 UK adults exploring the way dietary trends are taking the retail industry by storm.

These products are no longer specialist foods:
Linda McCartney
No Bull burgers
Nush Dairy-free yoghurt
Wicked Kitchen
BOL Foods

What was once a small segment to cater for, is now the critical mass of 2019. Supermarkets have had to jump to consumer demand by incorporating an increasing number of vegan and vegetarian selections as part of their offering.

This is becoming more and more prevalent in society as shoppers increasingly make these choices a staple part of their weekly diets. For instance, Sainsbury’s is the first supermarket to introduce vegan ribs as part of their offering. The veggie ‘Ribz’ by Plant Power will launch online and be available in 450 Sainsbury’s stores on 15 May.

In addition, IKEA has announced that it will be launching vegan meatballs into its offering with the ambition to make healthy and sustainable food accessible. The Swedish brand promises that the vegan meatballs will ‘look and taste like meat.’

Ubamarket research has revealed that:
• Brits spend £25 per week on vegetarian and vegan products, totalling £1.3 billion a year
• 36% of meat-eaters, representing 18.97 million Brits, are buying vegetarian and vegan specialist products
• 23% – 11.77 million – are stocking up gluten-free meals despite not having any intolerance
• 31% of Brits – 16.08 million – are eating more vegetarian and vegan meals than ever before
• A quarter of shoppers, or 12.77 million Brits, say supermarket layouts make shopping for meat-free products difficult
• 32% of Brits – 16.72 million – are consciously trying to eat less meat, for reasons ranging from their health to the environmental impact of the agriculture industry
• 26% of Brits said that trends like Veganuary and Sugar Awareness Week are shaping their shopping habit
• Waitrose have launched a new vegan range featuring 14 new products. The supermarket has seen a 110% increase in sales of the fish-less fingers in the space of one week.

The flexitarian diet is on the rise in 2019, with millions more adopting eating habits that reduce the amount of meat, dairy and eggs they eat due to the following influences. The current market for meat-free products is expected to be valued at £658m by 2021, up from £572m from 2017.

However, research from Ubamarket has revealed that consumers value their own spend on specialist vegan and vegetarian products at more than £25 a week, amounting to a yearly national spend of £1.3bn.

• Health issues relating to the consumption of meat – a diet high in red-meat has been proven to increase the levels of TMAO, a compound known to be linked to heart disease and strokes.
• Environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry – the meat and dairy industry requires a significantly larger proportion of water and land compared with that needed to produce fruits and vegetables, contributing to deforestation and causing 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
• Ethical ramifications of eating meat – while many people argue that eating meat is essential for a healthy diet, consumers are increasingly considering the morality of the meat industry in its current form. 250,000 Brits took part in Veganuary this year, up from just 3,300 at its launch in 2014.

Will Broome, CEO and Founder of Ubamarket, said, “Supermarkets are becoming more and more aware of the increase in flexitarianism, welcoming a meat-free diet into the mainstream by incorporating products into the general layout of a store rather than relegating them to a few shelves in the corner. Our research has consistently shown that shoppers find it difficult to locate specialty items in-store, leading to frustration and confusion.

'The importance of having systems in place that grant freedom for shoppers to make their own dietary decisions has never been more apparent. With easier ways to identify important allergens and ingredients on labels, more convenient store layouts and a smoother shopping format, consumers will be able to subscribe to alternative diets with ease.”

(source: Unamarket)