Something I often discuss is the rise in veganism, especially around the UK. As consumers decide that they want their diets, their way, more and more companies are becoming switched on when it comes to customisation. They are becoming more aware of how appealing a restaurant can be if it allows the consumer autonomy.
This is why I was so pleased to read that in 2018 the UK had overtaken Germany to become the world leader for vegan food launches. Germany has long been a country that has embraced its vegan citizens, with over 10% of the population describing themselves as vegetarian or vegan. This is a defining moment in the UK culinary-sphere, as it goes a long way to show just how good we are at customisation.
Mintel reported in their Global New Products Database (GNDP) that around 16% of all new food product launches in the UK in 2018 were vegan, doubling since 2017 when only 8% of new launches were plant-based.
Edward Bergen, Global Food and Drinks Analyst at Mintel explained: “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 restaurants and new ranges. The most poignant of these is the expansion of supermarket own-label ranges in mainstream stores, with dedicated vegan ranges. Additional space is also being freed up by UK supermarkets in the on-the-go aisles and small format stores, to help promote vegan options and make it easier for meat-eating consumers to try these new concepts out.
“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.”
What does this mean for the UK food market?
We’ve already seen some big moves from brands when it comes to vegan food in the UK. For example, Marks and Spencer’s launched Plant Kitchen, a range of over 60 vegan meals, snacks and ingredients. This range doesn’t only give plant-based consumers a few token products, it gives them a whole range of options.
It’s not just supermarkets who have made the leap though, Pizza Hut launched their vegan pizza earlier this year, and public favourite Wetherspoons have launched their new vegan burger. This is a trend we can see in a myriad of restaurants and cafes, where there isn’t simply one vegan dish anymore, but a range to choose from.
What does this mean for customisation?
New products and opportunities go hand-in-hand with increased customisation. The more ingredients there are for our chefs and industry thought-leaders there are to experiment with, the more possibilities there are.
As well as indicating an upward trajectory for change in the future, it also shows just how far the UK has come. It shows that not only is the UK catering for those with less-conventional dietary preferences or requirement, but we are also excelling at offering them.
When I set about creating Kolibri, I was inspired by the lack of customisation available in the soft drinks market. That’s why, for me, it was even more important that as many people as possible would be able to experience Kolibri. Not only is it alcohol-free, certified Low Sugar by SugarWise, and with light, aromatic flavours, but it is also vegan.
I hope as time goes on, we see even more products launching that allow consumers in this country to have full control over their diets easily.