Meat-Free Makes It's Mark

How the meat-free movement has changed from trend to lifestyle

Meat-Free Makes Its Mark

How the meat-free movement has changed from trend to lifestyle

There are currently around 7.2 million adults in the UK following a meat-free diet, with a further 8.8 million Brits planning to go meat-free by the end of 2022[1]. This demonstrates the extent to which consumers demand meat-free products in the UK both currently and in the near future. Global retailers and manufacturers with an awareness of the impacts of meat consumption are focusing on product development to satisfy these increasing meat-free desires.

The key active launcher brands for 2021 and 2022 year to date can be seen in the table below, showing a number of industry trends among organisations with the fastest NPD launch rate[2].

A table showing the Key Active Launchers Brands Globally within Meat Substitutes from 2021 - 2022 YTD

(Key Active Launchers - Brands - Meat Substitutes Global 2021-2022)

Firstly, large supermarkets such as Tesco were quick to invest in meat-free. In 2021, Tesco didn’t feature in the top 15, but now features in the top 10 for 2022, with an increase in launches of over 1%, challenging rivals such as Asda, who were bottom of the table in 2021 at 0.5%.

Secondly, discount supermarkets are joining the race to provide meat-free alternatives. Lidl’s own brand, Vemondo, posted the largest increase in meat-free new product launches with a 1.3% rise year on year.

Lastly, other brands are also increasing their meat-free product development such as Garden Gourmet, who had a 0.5% increase between 2021 and 2022, and Meatless Farm, demonstrating growth as they move from 0.7% to 1.6% between 2021 and 2022.

While the table above indicates 2022 YTD, it is expected that product launches later in the year will change the positioning of some major meat-free brands. 

As businesses are compete to launch the best meat-free products, the industry experiences growth. The requirement for meat substitutes is shown in the global market value of the meat-free industry. In 2021, the industry was valued at €4,189,000. The projected growth for the 2022 global market value for meat substitutes will increase by 8% (€335,000), to a total of €4,524,000 this year, signifying the meat-free trend is set to stay and become a lifestyle [3]. 

How does the demand for new meat-free products lead to successful launches? 

To assess the meat-free industry’s growth and innovation we have used ‘The 6 Stages of the Product Development Model’[4]. Linking this model to the areas in which they take place we can follow the journey of product innovation. Specifically, we showcase the development of ingredients for meat-free product ranges.

A diagram showing the process of innovation. Stages include idea generation, product definition, prototyping, initial design, validation and testing and commercialisation.

(The 6 stages of the Product Development Model)

Applying the model to the food and beverage industry identified the following:

The new meat-free lifestyle change comes as a result of consumer’s increasing desire for diet variation in plant-based products, beyond traditional vegan and vegetarian sectors.

How are consumers influencing innovation?

Consumers are now looking for quality alternatives to meat, fish and dairy, providing a canvas for innovation. 46% of consumers say similar nutritional content is very important in these products[5] and so the race is on for developing convincing tasting alternative protein sources with the same nutrition natural meat provides.

Meat-free brands are developing sustainable food solutions by leveraging alternative protein sources such as algae, pea, mushroom or chickpea. Research has found that the factors most important to consumers over the last 12 months are freshness, flavour and nutritional benefit. The demand for freshness increased by 9% since 2020, flavour increased by 7% and nutritional benefit by 2%[6]. Companies can take note of this and develop a new product with the same nutrition, a high level of freshness and improved flavour. As a result, plant-based research and development has refocused from mimicking meat products to optimizing meat alternatives that stand on their own merits.

What does this mean for the food industry?

There has been a 93% growth in food and beverage launches with a plant-based and premium or indulgent claim between November 2019 – October 2020 and November 2020 - October 2021[7]. Product launches for plant-based goods have sky-rocketed, due to their many benefits including improved health, better well-being, positive animal welfare and beneficial environmental impact. Businesses can learn from this and continue to research and develop new product launches that satisfy all consumers, leading to a booming food industry.

So, how does this impact producers, and more specifically PureMalt?

In 2020, there were 1200 new vegan plant-based products launched[8] . Examples include Gregg’s vegan sausage rolls, Pizza Hut’s Pepperphoni pizza and KFC’s vegan burger. Producers are now furthering their meat-free product offerings more than ever before to keep up with demand and the changing lifestyle of customers.

PureMalt recognise the growth of plant based lifestyles and the positive impact on our customers, consumers, environment and community.

Our strategy has adapted to accommodate this change. We now offer a range of ingredients for meat free recipes, allowing plant-based food producers the opportunity to add convincing flavour, colour and texture through our products Rex, RD50, RL25 and RD34, enabling producers to meet consumer expectations of variety for meat alternatives.


To conclude, what was once a rising trend of meat-free and plant based diets has transformed into a more substantial growth in consumer lifestyle changes, prevalent among both UK and global audiences and continues to grow. This transition has been recognised across the industry with retailers, manufacturers, producers and restaurants all contributing to building the meat-free offering available to satisfy consumer needs. It is expected that innovation throughout the course of this year will bring further options to the table for plant based meals.

The strong demand for meat-free has seen a large amount of items pushed through the cycle of innovation, many more are expected to follow as the industry learns and ultimately adopts this change in consumer lifestyles.

PureMalt have already adopted this change into their product mix and are prepared to cater to these requirements through our specific range of meat-free ingredients. We would expect many other manufacturers to follow shortly as this transition is becoming a permanent feature of the food landscape.

Interested in sampling our meat-free offerings? Contact one of our sales team managers using the link: Let's Talk Form (


[1] Finder, How many vegetarians and vegans are in the UK? (, 2022

[2] Innova Market Dashboard, 2022

[3] Innova Market Dashboard, 2022

[4] Asana, 2022

[5] Innova Market Dashboard, 2022

[6] Innova Market Dashboard, 2022

[7] Innova Market Dashboard, 2022

[8] Vegan Boom: Over 1,200 New Plant-Based Products Launched In January As Demand Surges (, 2020