THE NUMBER of vegetarian restaurants in the UK has continued to grow, with 30 premium restaurants now in operation across the country, up 50% since 2007.
Sales of vegetarian foods have also increased, rising by 7.7% from £730.4m in the year ending January 2007 to £786.5m in the year ending January 2011.
The market has been buoyed in recent years by more than just a rise in the number of vegetarians, according to the new report by Key Note.
The increase in the number of people choosing to reduce their meat consumption for health reasons following recent studies that have suggested that red meat can cause heart disease, heightened cholesterol and obesity has also driven growth.
Meanwhile, improvements to vegetarian meals and recipe innovations have made vegetarian meals much more appetising to consumers.
The more controversial idea of eating less meat for environmental reasons has also seen the number of meat reducers increase.
Menus that have less meat and higher vegetable content are beginning to gain traction in the foodservice industry. Speaking to Foodservice Footprint as part of a special sustainable diets feature in the June issue, CH&Co managing director Caroline Fry said:
I can see a move to less meat in menus from a number of standpoints, including health, sustainability and cost. Weve come to recognise that meats role in a meal doesnt necessarily have to be centre stage.
Health and environmental benefits are likely to continue to drive sales of vegetarian foods in the future. Key Note predicts a 10.3% increase in the market over the next five years, reaching £882.4m in 2016.