It’s boom time for vegan and vegetarian eating, but food businesses are failing to keep customers happy.
A survey of 1,000 consumers in the UK and US found that 46% of vegans and 23% of vegetarians are dissatisfied with the choice of food products available to them.
Dissatisfaction with product choice was higher in the US than the UK – 50% versus 36% amongst vegans and 31% versus 15% amongst vegetarians.
Animal welfare was the main reason for the big shift towards these diets, but health was not far behind. Some 54% of vegetarians said concerns about their health influenced their decision to forego meat, compared to 64% who said it was to do with animal welfare.
The research, commissioned by Ingredient Communications, also suggested that large numbers of consumers are planning major changes to their diets over the coming year.
Indeed, three in five vegetarians (60%) are considering becoming vegan. This trend was considerably higher in the US, where 90% said they were considering veganism, compared to 33% in the UK. Of the meat-eaters polled, 42% intend either to reduce their meat consumption or stop eating meat altogether.
Meanwhile, a new campaign launched by the Vegan Society is encouraging thousands of its supporters to contact rail companies asking them to offer vegan food and drink options on-board trains.
The Vegan on the Go campaign has targeted companies including East Midlands Trains, Transpennine Express and Great Western Railway with email templates and tweets.
A poll by the campaign group last year found that that 80% of vegans “often go hungry” on-board trains.
Veganism is growing at an exponential rate and is an “untapped market” that could offer huge opportunities for restaurant owners, investors and food developers, the society said.
According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, there was a 185% increase in the number of vegan products launched in the UK between 2012 and 2016.
The Vegan Society found that the number of vegans in Great Britain has doubled twice in the past four years: from up to 150,000 in 2014 to 276,000 in 2016, and then to 600,000 in 2018.
An earlier phase of Vegan on the Go targeted high street retailers to improve their ready-made vegan options, which resulted in a “huge rise” in vegan wraps, sandwiches and ready meals on offer.