The UK meat and dairy industry has been urged to better market its products following a surge in the sale of plant-based ‘alternatives’ by meat-eaters keen to try something new.
A report by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said sales were being driven by meat-eaters who had plans to take on board some elements of a plant-based diet, without the pressure to commit full-time.
AHDB senior consumer insight analyst Susie Stannard said although 91 per cent of the UK regarded themselves as meat-eaters, veganism received a ‘disproportionate amount of media attention’.
Only 2 per cent of the population are vegans, with flexitarians – those who want to cut down on meat consumption for health reasons – making up a further 7 per cent.
Ms Stannard said: “In our recent qualitative research on young consumers, we found that although many young people were open to veganism and found the ideals aspirational, when they actually tried it they encountered barriers in terms of cost, taste and how it made them feel.”
According to research, almost half of Quorn sales were made by meat-eaters, while 45 per cent of dairy alternative meals also featured a dairy product.
But AHDB said the plant-based diet was ‘difficult to stick to’ on a permanent basis, with many young women suffering anaemia.
It instead called for producers to move towards more brand- and solution-led marketing.
Ms Stannard added: “Investment in driving down environmental impacts, more ethical methods of production and paying closer attention to product quality will cost more in the short-term but, if meat and dairy alternatives end up being a viable, acceptable tasting and cost-effective option for consumers, then this could become the price of entry.”