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As Veganuary forecasts its highest number of attendees for 2022, the vegan meat market continues to be a top priority for consumers and industry.
Over 300,000 people have already signed up for Veganuary, the month-long campaign encouraging people to go vegan for their health and the planet throughout January. The campaign is accompanied by new product launches and promotions. Two big announcements were made this week ahead of Veganuary: Starbucks just announced it would be scrapping its vegan milk supplement in the UK, and Babybel launched a vegan cheese wheel.
Request for vegan meat
The pandemic has seen an already thriving vegan meat market see record sales. Coronavirus shopping habits have led to a 264% increase in vegan meat sales. According to MarketsandMarkets, the plant-based meat market was valued at around $4.3 billion in 2020, and it will reach $8.3 billion by 2025.
The demand for vegan meat continues to rise. Since last Veganuary, McDonald’s McPlant has debuted and expanded to a number of locations across the United States. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have both launched vegan nuggets among a growing number of plant-based chicken offerings. They now face competition from blue chip food companies like Nestlé, Tyson and Kellogg. Data released earlier this year estimates a five-fold increase in vegan food sales by 2030.
Unilever also recently released ambitious sales targets for its herbal offerings. This is part of its movement towards reducing its overall greenhouse gas emissions. In a major first, it is also inviting shareholders to vote on its climate policies at its general meeting scheduled for this spring.
British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s made headlines in 2019 when it launched a pop-up vegan butcher’s counter. The launch, the UK’s first vegan butcher, deviated so much from traditional supermarket fare that customers were queuing to taste. The launch was part of World Meatless Week, which takes place every June.
Sainsbury’s said it made the move after seeing a 65% increase in vegan food sales year-on-year and doubling its vegan sales in the year before the butcher shop launched.
It was a big move for a supermarket in 2019 to take a chance on vegan meat counters, even for just three days, showed the market shift in all its meaty glory.
This has led to a domino effect: another major UK supermarket chain, Asda, last year launched its own vegan butcher’s counter, ‘Veelicious’, a six-month trial counter in its Watford store. Like a traditional meat counter, Veelicious offers a range of meat options, as well as cheeses, sauces and ready-meal kits, all made from plants.
Asda extended its vegan butcher counter beyond six months, but the plan was to expand to other stores if successful. There has been no update on this status. But even if the counter fails, the trend is undoubtedly here to stay. Tesco, the UK’s biggest chain, said it would increase its vegan offerings by 300% by 2025. The news comes after furniture giant IKEA announced it would return half of its vegan cafe menus by 2025.
“Demand for vegan products is on the rise and we’ve seen an increase in people looking for ways to easily enjoy a plant-based lifestyle,” said Asda chief strategy officer Preyash Thakrar. , in a press release. He says Asda launched the counter now because it recognized the importance of helping customers on their ‘Veganuary journey’.
The trend of vegan butchers has grown in the United States, Canada and Europe. Self-contained vegan butchers like Herbivorous Butcher in Minnesota and Very Good Butchers in Canada can hardly keep up with the demand. Very Good Butchers was so successful that it went public in 2020.
The Dutch vegetarian butcher has seen sales soar since being sold to Unilever in 2019. And supermarkets like Bristol Farms in California added their own vegan butcher counter in 2019, focusing on local vegan meat producer, Uncut.
It’s not just vegan meat sales that are on the rise. The fodder for the meatless butcher counters also comes from the produce aisles. In recent years, Whole Foods Market and Harrods have launched “vegetable butchers” – counters preparing fresh-cut vegetables as demand for plant-based foods soars.
Meat and fish counters in decline
The shift in demand for vegan meat also comes as meat and fish counters in major supermarkets continue to close.
Tesco has announced several major closures of fish and meat counters in recent years, citing poor performance as the main reason. In 2020, Sainsbury’s also announced the closure of its meat and fish counters.
“The accelerated shift online will not reverse,” a Sainsbury’s representative told CNN. This change not only decreases interest in meat or fish, but also the impact of COVID-19. Consumers are increasingly making purchases online. They are also reducing their meat consumption following the outbreak, which has been attributed to a wet market in China.
Slaughterhouses and meatpacking facilities in the United States have also steered consumers toward healthier options. These facilities have been among the operations hardest hit by widespread COVID infections. Traces of the COVID-19 infection were found in frozen meat samples last summer. As recently as last November, China discovered COVID-19 on frozen pork.
According to CNBC, some estimates put the meat industry’s losses at $20 billion for 2020.
Main image: McDonald’s