Several alt protein brands have said they are still committed to the plant-based category in the UK in spite of challenging market conditions.
Discussing its first-half results, Swiss food group Orior — owner of the plant-based Happy Vegi Butcher brand — said that while sales in Switzerland had remained stable, those in the UK were “inadequate, with only minimal signs of recovery”. Despite this, the company insisted it was “fully convinced of the future viability and growth potential” of the plant-based category, seeing the current situation as a “temporary bear market”. Orior said that the increasing adoption of flexitarian diets provided assurance that the plant-based market would see further growth.
This sentiment has been echoed by Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina, which is about to launch a brand of chicken alternatives in the UK (not fully vegan due to the use of dairy, though aimed at the flexitarian market). “[The category is] having a few challenges but there are still millions of people buying into meat-free and it’s still up versus say five years ago. The market has grown consistently in double-digits,” Alison Lees, the UK marketing chief for the new brand, told Just Food.
“Consumer appetite is still there”
British plant-based brands are also continuing to innovate and expand; in the past two months alone, THIS has introduced a range of on-the-go products and an improved version of its beef-style burgers. Quorn has also launched two new products — katsu fillets and frozen sausage rolls — while Squeaky Bean has expanded into the frozen category and launched more chilled options.
Also notable is VFC, which recently entered the chilled category for the first time and received a £6 million investment earlier this year to fuel its expansion. The company is so confident in the future of the plant-based category that it acquired Meatless Farm — which was on the brink of bankruptcy — in June. The acquisition saw Meatless Farm products return to shelves just weeks later.
“Those claiming the plant-based food movement has peaked are mistaken. The consumer appetite for plant-based is still there and at a total EU level, the category is in growth, with unit sales growth of the plant-based milk, meat and cheese categories outpacing that of animal-based counterparts,” VFC co-founder Matthew Glover told vegconomist.