It’s the 1960s. The Beatles are the best thing since sliced bread. As are flares. Martin Luther King Jr. makes history with “I have a dream,” and spam is a staple on UK tables. There are just a few hundred vegans in the UK.
Skip forward to today, and there are over 600,000 vegans in the UK alone (1), and countless vegetarians, pescetarians and flexitarians. Veganism is in the limelight, with influencer and celebrity support ranging from Billie Eilish to Beyoncé, Venus Williams to Mike Tyson.
The way we eat has changed fundamentally, and it’s not showing any sign of slowing down. In fact, veganism is one of the fastest-growing movements around the world. That’s right, veganism is waving goodbye to its hippie heritage and elbowing meat-eating out of the way.
The vegan market is expected to reach $162 billion by 2030 (2), for a number of reasons. From health benefits to social media trends, rising awareness and concern around climate change, as well as the ethics around the meat, fish, egg and dairy industries are all causing many to consider veganism. Plus, being vegan and dabbling in veganism is far easier today than they were six years ago, let alone 60. Plant-based alternatives can be sampled from supermarkets, cafés, restaurants and even fast food chains.
The 1st of November marks World Vegan Day, so we’re back with a few upcoming trends in the world of vegan eating to whet your appetite.
Vegan seafood is off the hook
The Good Food Institute reports that 90% of wild fisheries are classified as overfished (3), a problem that is only going to escalate if we continue to consume seafood at our current rate.
But there’s hope yet, as consumer interest in vegan seafood is skyrocketing. In 2021, Google searches for ‘Vegan seafood’ saw upwards of a 5000% increase (4). There have been a multitude of new contenders entering the plant-based seafood market, using soy, fava beans, peas and lentils as the basis for a new kind of seafood. We’re also seeing a fresh wave of innovation, with products made from algae, seaweed and jackfruit. The products available or in production are impressive too, from fish sauce to fish cakes, tinned tuna to fish fingers.
The decline in both fish stocks and consumer desire to eat real seafood presents a huge opportunity for brands willing to dip a toe in the vegan seafood market. As ever, with plant-based products, flavour and texture are tricky here, so we predict big things for the brands who can offer tasty, ethical ‘seafood’ that nails briny cravings.
Squeaky clean plant-based labels
Next up in the vegan crystal ball is labelling. Specifically, a growing rise in demand for plant-based alternatives that have clean labels. As awareness of ultra-processed foods increases, desire for products that don’t come with vast ingredient lists crammed onto the packaging will increase.
A recent study showed that nearly 40% of Brits believe plant-based foods only contain natural ingredients (5). And yet many plant-based alternatives contain unfamiliar, scientific-sounding ingredients in order to stabilise, bind, preserve and flavour the products. 61% of consumers also agree that ultra-processed foods are bad for their health (6).
Familiar products such as vegan burgers and sausages make eating plant-based more accessible to meat-eaters and flexitarians. So the brands that can create new products that deliver on taste and texture, while also containing fewer ingredients and a higher nutritional content will be hitting the grill running, as it were.
Innovation needs to happen to find ways to create flakey fish textures, toothsome meaty chew, and umami flavour without piling in additives. Instead, we need to find new ways to use byproducts and natural ingredients, such as citrus fibres from fruit juice processes (7).
And then there is the label and packaging itself. To make a splash on the shelves, future labelling and packaging need to be carefully considered. Plastic-free or made from recycled materials is ideal, while recyclable is the minimum. Keep your eyes peeled for key innovation in this arena.
Finally, let’s look at the vegan trend that’s growing faster than, well, a mushroom. Fungi and mycelium are taking the plant-based market by storm with their ability to mimic familiar meaty textures and provide rich umami flavours. They can also be grown almost anywhere, and very fast.
There has already been some extensive research and innovation in the mushroom market, with brands creating mycelium-based bacon and whole cuts, as well as ‘pulled’ alternatives for burgers and buns.
CEO and founder Shalom Daniel says Mush Foods ingredients will help producers “improve the taste, texture, and nutritional value of plant-based or hybrid products.” (8) Could mushrooms be the ingredient that matches consumer desire for delicious and nutritious alternatives?
Innovation is yet young in the mycelium world, so this is one trend we’ll be watching with keen interest. In our eyes, the future is fungi, and it’s looking pretty magical.
Is your brand on a mission to satisfy vegan cravings? We are all about helping purpose-based brands to create work that ignites change. Drop us a line, we’d love to help.
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