Evidence points towards growth in 'flexitarian' diet, research suggests

Data also suggests that brands have an opportunity to increase their market share among flexitarians
Data also suggests that brands have an opportunity to increase their market share among flexitarians

More evidence of the trend towards a 'flexitarian' diet has been revealed in consumers' choice in their products, new research suggests.

Consumption of meat and dairy alternatives such as Quorn and plant-based milk is growing, even among people who are not exclusively vegan or vegetarian.

The number of vegans and vegetarians has been rising steadily over the years, representing a growing opportunity for food manufacturers.

But also rising, and possibly benefiting these companies, is flexitarianism, where people reduce the amount of meat they eat rather than totally avoiding it.



The trend towards flexitarianism is helping to drive growth in organic eggs, according to Soil Association trade consultant Finn Cottle.

Finn spoke to the FarmingUK following publication of the Soil Association’s latest organic market report, which showed that the United Kingdom’s organic market overall was now worth £2.33 billion following growth in sales of 5.3 per cent in 2018.



Finn said that organic eggs enjoyed even greater growth last year – up 13 per cent by value – and she said that the move towards flexitarianism was helping drive this growth.

“We think organic shoppers are very motivated by health and are ahead of the game in managing their own diet,” said Finn.

“They are pre-disposed to making changes to their diet. I think that consumers' diets have started to change and they will continue to change - particularly with a new generation of consumers.”

Data also suggests that brands have an opportunity to increase their market share among flexitarians: under a third (30%) use a meat or dairy substitute at least weekly.

More than half of British consumers were either following or were interested in a plant-based diet.

The trend was even more marked amongst younger people, with 68 per cent of 18-24-year-olds drawn to a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet.

Vanessa Henry, shopper insight manager at researchers IGD, said: “We are seeing an increasing number of people adopting a more flexible approach to their diets, whether it’s just for one meal or one day a week, shoppers are increasingly choosing a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet.



“This is for a variety of reasons; the aspiration to be healthier, to adopt more ethical credentials and also to limit the impact on the environment. Some shoppers also claim it helps them reduce their overall food bill.”