Chicago / IL. (mi) While locked down Brits sought comfort in breakfast and barbecue favorites such as sausages and burgers, according to new research from Mintel market research, meat reduction has returned to around the level seen in 2019, following a dip in 2020.
Just under half (49 percent) of Brits are now limiting their meat intake or not eating it at all, up from four in ten (41 percent) in 2020 – and almost back in line with 2019 levels where the figure stood at 51 percent. While the number of Brits not eating red meat or poultry has remained largely unchanged (10 percent in 2020 versus 11 percent in 2021), there has been a significant increase in the number of Brits limiting/reducing their meat eating (31 percent in 2020 versus 38 percent in 2021). The trend towards meat reduction comes as sales of sausages, bacon and burgers dropped an estimated – 4.3 percent in 2021 falling to £2,628 million, following the 2020 high when sales increased 22 percent to reach £2,755 million. While sales remain 16 percent above 2019, they are predicted to fall further in 2022.
Meanwhile, sales of meat substitutes* are estimated to have increased by 9 percent in 2021, reaching £598 million, albeit at a slower rate of growth than 2020 when sales increased an impressive 34 percent to reach £551 million. Strong consumer interest in limiting/reducing the eating of meat, combined with the market retaining its momentum in terms of new launch activity and more retail space will drive further growth in sales. Overall, more than half (53 percent) of Brits enjoy meat substitutes, signalling their widespread appeal beyond non-meat eaters.
Despite the buzz around the vegan trend, only 2 percent of Brits follow a purely vegan/plant-based diet.
Richard Caines, Mintel Senior Food and Drink Analyst: «While sales of processed meat still benefited in 2021 from more meals being eaten at home, they slipped back from their 2020 high. Meat reduction has returned to around the level seen in 2019, following a dip in 2020 when other priorities likely became more pressing in food and drink choices. This includes people seeking comfort and familiarity during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
«The fact that nearly half of adults now either don’t eat meat/poultry or are limiting intake poses a challenge for the meat industry and points to vast further potential for meat substitutes’ growth, if they can win favour as the alternative. It also offers compelling evidence of how media coverage around meat has reached consumers, with eating less meat widely associated with various benefits.
«However, meat brands can fight back by drawing attention to the essential nutrients these foods can provide, in order to help to highlight and bolster their health credentials, whilst providing more details on the «how» and «who» of the farm to fork journey – which can also boost consumer trust.»
Half of Brits believe that eating less meat is better for the environment
Eco-conscious Brits are increasingly seeing a positive link between eating less meat and environmental benefits, a view that has nearly doubled from a quarter (25 percent) of consumers in 2018 to almost half (47 percent) in 2021. And it’s older generations who are most likely to see the link: 51 percent of those aged 65+, compared to 45 percent of 16-34-year-olds.
Helping the environment is seen as the number one benefit from meat reduction, greater than helping consumers manage their weight (28 percent) or saving money (27 percent). Other benefits include reducing the risk of disease (25 percent) and feeling good (23 percent).
Richard Caines: «Reducing meat consumption has been identified as one of the key components of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change by governmental organisations, and more and more people are making a positive link between eating less meat and benefiting the environment. Public awareness is likely to have been further increased by the COP26 conference.
«Mintel predicts a longer-term increase in interest in sustainability. People are becoming more conscious of their purchase choices and the wider consequences that these have.
Almost three in ten (28 percent) Brits believe that the environment is a higher priority for them since the Covid-19 outbreak. This will lend ongoing momentum to both the meat reduction trend and the scrutiny of the sustainability of meat substitute products.»