Are you ready for Veganuary?
Veganuary is the new mega-trend. That time when retailers battle to help those consumers taking on the challenge of becoming a vegan for a month by offering them the latest innovations that would tempt even the most die-hard of meat eaters. As more than 250,000 people signed up to Veganuary in 2019 (the same as the number as over the last five years combined) according to The Guardian, is it time your company catered to this growing market?
Progressing to plant-based
Veganism is big business. Whether it’s consumers only partaking for a month (14,000 people signed up to Veganuary on 30 December 2018 alone*), once a week to cut down on meat or those for whom it’s a full-time lifestyle choice, there is more demand than ever before. The Waitrose 2018 food and drink report, which surveyed 2000 people in the UK found that one in eight identify as vegan or vegetarian while 22% of people describe themselves as ‘flexitarian’ (eating a vegetarian or vegan diet every now and then). Six out of 10 people have committed to staying vegan after Veganuary ends so it is clearly a trend that’s unlikely to go away as consumers are increasingly cutting down on meat consumption for health, environmental or animal welfare reasons.
But while they’re happy to lose meat and other animal products, they’re not willing to compromise on anything else. Increasingly shoppers are looking for indulgent plant-based offerings to satisfy their discerning taste buds. In the Grocer’s Quick draw: plant-based category report 2018, it was reported that in the UK “sales of meat-free and vegan items have shot up by 14.3% to £352.1m over the past year [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 12 August 2018].” Within this category, ready meals were the second fastest-growing sub-category by percentage, up 22.7%. With so much growth potential, it’s clear that competition is hotting up and it’s a big task to stand out from the crowd. So how can you achieve this?
Meat-free, not taste-free
That’s where Steam Infusion comes in. Our technology has been used in a wide range of ready meals, such as sweet potato curries and even tomato sauces to deliver fresher, more intense flavours and brighter colours. Reformulation to vegan varieties, or just new product development, is made easier with Steam Infusion because conducting trials with this technology closely resembles what happens when trying new recipes in the saucepan, unlike the results when using a steam jacketed vessel.
In addition, processing vegetables and fruit with more traditional processes can lose their natural colours due to long processing times. The speed of the processing with Steam Infusion results in better retention of the natural colours of fruits and vegetables, creating naturally brighter foods without the use of colour enhancers - helping your products stand out on the shelf.
And as with many food trends, the consumer is laser-focused on the nutritional benefits of the food products they’re purchasing. Our research with University of Lincoln found that with potatoes and carrots, our ability to cook much faster with Steam Infusion allowed manufacturers to retain more vitamins and minerals against conventional systems when cooled immediately after cooking, meaning you could benefit from an enhanced nutritional profile on your vegan ready meals.
If you’re looking to launch into the plant-based category, why not partner with us to get your products exactly right. Our development chef can run trials with your recipes and provide helpful advice to ensure that your product flies off the shelf.