Flexitarians drive surge in meat alternatives

FEATURED SPEAKER Fi Europe 2017 Conference

The European market for meat alternatives is rapidly expanding. Growth is boosted by flexitarians who are seeking to reduce their meat consumption with high - protein equivalents to meat and dairy. Ahead of his presentation on this topic at the Fi Conference 2017 we interviewed Raphaël Moreau, Senior Analyst at Euromonitor International, about the growing meat alternatives market.

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What constitutes a ‘meat alternative’?
‘Meat substitutes are vegetarian products which imitate the taste and texture properties of popular meat products such as burgers, meat balls and sausages. Therefore, their main target audience are vegetarians who might miss the taste of meat products.‘

‘For further clarification this is the product definition: Product types include: vegetarian sausages, vegetarian burgers, bean burgers etc. typically made of quorn mycoprotein, tofu, soy, or texturized vegetable protein.’

Why has there been such a growth in demand for non - animal protein recently?
‘The growing popularity of meat substitutes in Europe is largely due to their widening appeal beyond vegetarians. This is caused by the growing number of flexitarians who are seeking to reduce their meat consumption with high - protein equivalents to meat and dairy. This has contributed to the emergence of non - animal proteins permeating other categories beyond meat substitutes, for example cereal bars.’

Is this growth set to continue?
‘Meat substitutes are forecast to remain a high growth category. They have not yet reached maturity, and sales remain low, especially compared to processed meat and seafood. Therefore, it still shows strong growth potential in Europe, notably through new product launches and by achieving wider distribution.’

How does growth of meat/animal protein compare?
‘Meat substitute volume sales in Western Europe recorded a 12% CAGR between 2011 and 2016, while total processed meat and seafood saw a 0% CAGR. The rapid growth in meat substitute sales was boosted by the entrance of major processed meat manufacturers into the category, notably in Germany, as they saw an opportunity to tap into the growing demand for meat alternatives and off set the stagnation of meat - based products.’

How do different markets compare? Is there any region in particular that is seeing more growth for non - meat alternatives?
‘Germany and the UK are the key markets driving sales of meat substitutes in Western Europe. Both markets have benefited from a high proportion of vegetarians among the adult population, thereby giving niche vegetarian brands a larger scale of operations and listings in large retail chains.’

What are some of the innovations out in the market in this area?
‘In Europe and the US, start-ups are increasingly attempting to create products that offer textures and tastes which are similar to meat equivalents as possible.’

What are your prediction for the F&B industry in the next 3-5 years?
‘Consumers’ growing awareness and interest in healthy nutrition alongside rising concerns about obesity are expected to continue shaping the packaged food industry, especially in developed countries. Therefore, the popularity of free - from food with cleaner label is likely to be prevalent across all packaged food categories, including snacking products targeting indulgent consumption.’

‘This shift is likely to benefit premium niche brands, often perceived as healthier, greener and offering more natural ingredients, at the expense of more mainstream brands set to face a stagnation in demand. As volume sales in developed markets stagnate and maintaining expansion in emerging markets is likely to become more challenging, major players in the industry may increasingly turn to the acquisition of niche players with strong health credentials in order to maintain growth.’

Be sure to catch Raphaël Moreau’s presentation ‘Future meat alternatives beyond plant-based’, at the Fi Europe 2017 Conference during the Master Class: Everything Protein on Tuesday, 28th November 14:30–18:00.