Vegetarian and ‘flexitarian’ marketing opportunities on the rise

The global trend towards reducing meat intake in the diet has led to the emergence of new opportunities to target vegans, vegetarians, non-meat eaters and non-red-meat eaters. New opportunities are emerging too for so-called flexitarians, who mainly eat a plant-based diet, but do occasionally eat meat.

Innova Market Insights data shows a +60 per cent rise in global food and beverage launches using a vegetarian claim between 2011 and 2015. Launches featuring the term “vegan” also rose to account for 4.3 per cent of total introductions in 2015, up from 2.8 per cent in 2014 and just 1.5 per cent in 2012.

“This trend represents a growing opportunity for high-quality meat alternatives, which is also being reflected in the 24% average annual growth in global meat substitute launches recorded between 2011 and 2015,” said Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights.

Germany has been leading this trend, with high levels of innovative NPD in meat alternatives and meat substitutes, and 69 per cent of consumers claiming to eat meatless meals once a week or more. The US is lagging behind on just 38 per cent, although 120 million Americans do already eat meatless meals, so this must represent a major opportunity.

The trend towards flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan diets has accelerated the move toward the use of plant-based proteins as meat substitutes. The majority of meat substitutes are still soy- or wheat-protein based, but products are evolving with alternative protein ingredients such as egg, pea, ancient grains and nuts.

Innova Market Insights - Flexitarian Lifestyle is New Trend #IFT16

“Paradoxically, another key area of opportunity in meat substitutes may be in targeting meat eaters as much as vegetarians,” noted Williams. “While many vegetarians may opt for a diet rich in vegetables and beans, meat eaters may turn to meat substitutes if the product is right. Instead of just finding alternatives, technological solutions also need to be focusing on the development of meat substitutes closely mimicking the taste and texture of meat products.”