How supermarkets are upping their vegan game

Laura Hampson
·3-min read
There are around 600,000 vegans living in the UK (Getty)
There are around 600,000 vegans living in the UK (Getty)

Even a decade ago, if a supermarket announced it was opening a dedicated butcher counter for fake meat, most of us would have been left scratching their heads.

Yet, with an estimated 600,000 of us classifying ourselves as vegans, ASDA’s new vegan butcher counter - dubbed ‘Veelicious’ - shows just how much the demand has risen.

Shoppers will be able to buy ‘facon’ (fake bacon), bean burgers, meatless meatballs, mock lamb and even vegan ‘black pudding’ at the supermarket’s trial counter in Watford this week.

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An additional 22 vegan items being added to ASDA’s plant-based range this month as well. Preyash Thakrar, Asda’s chief strategy officer says there has been a surge in people “seeking out ways to easily enjoy a plant-based lifestyle”.

According to analyst firm Mintel, the UK market for meat alternatives could be worth more than £1.1billion by 2024.

Research released in July last year by trademark law firm, EMW, the number of trademarks for vegan products more than doubled in 2019.

Waitrose saw a 700% increase in pre-orders for vegan food this past Christmas (Getty)
Waitrose saw a 700% increase in pre-orders for vegan food this past Christmas (Getty)

It found that Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Tesco were among the major supermarket chains trademarking new vegan items.

Daisy Divoka, an associate at EMW, said at the time: “There are now more vegan products on supermarket shelves than ever before.

“Multinational corporations have identified this as a fast-growing sector and are competing to register their trademarks with the aim of capturing and defending a share of the market.”

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In September last year, Tesco set a target to sell 300% more plant-based meat alternatives by 2025.

It aims to introduce more vegan products including ready meals, breaded meat alternatives, plant-based sausages, burgers, quiches, pies and party food, a spokesperson explained.

There seems to have been a boom in vegan additions to supermarket aisles over the past few years - this was evident over the 2020 festive period where there were plenty of plant-based options on offer.

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In fact, Waitrose revealed last month that pre-orders for vegan Christmas food were up 700% compared with 2019. It also revealed that searches for ‘vegan cheese’ had risen by 76%.

Morrisons introduced a plant-based party food range at the end of last year as well as festive-themed vegan gingerbread doughnuts. This January, it’s launched a new vegan food box for ‘Veganuary’ filled with dairy alternatives, meat-free options and vegan snacks including chocolate bars

Iceland supermarkets are getting a welcome addition this January, too - Gregg’s vegan sausage rolls. After the bakery chain launched the wildly successful rolls in 2019 packs of four will now be stocked in Iceland along with its vegan steak bakes.

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January will also see Heinz’ new vegan mayo alternative stocked at Tesco as well as the supermarket’s expansion of its Wicked Kitchen bakery products.

M&S launched its vegan range, Plant Kitchen last year and it’s already made a splash on the vegan scene too. It’s introduced a slew of new products this month, including no-chicken southern fried tenders, melt-in-the-middle no-fishcakes and cauliflower popcorn bites.

With supermarkets committing to expanding their plant-based ranges and consumers all the more eager to purchase them, it’s likely we’ll see a lot more vegan items on the shelves in the coming years.

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