What has the world come to? Who knows, maybe a better place. Every week I’m surprised by the change in attitudes and behaviour towards meat. Arnold Schwarzenegger goes vegan, meat-free Mondays in Argentina, and so on.
Not too many years ago I would mention working at Quorn and await some slight chuckle. Now it usually leads to someone telling me how they, their partner, or another family member have either reduced consumption or given up meat.
Younger consumers simply do not replicate our meat usage. Concerns around health dominate, but sustainability is rapidly creating change. If meat production were a country it would be the world’s number three polluter after China and the US.
Many younger consumers are not happy with this. Netflix understands, providing documentaries from Cowspiracy to What The Health and Rotten, each leaving the average viewer determined to cut down on meat.December even saw respected investor group FAIRR suggest meat needs to be taxed.
Five years ago this all seemed implausible. Then again I never imagined it could impact the wonderful waterways of New Zealand. They now face a major issue with animal waste run-off.
Of course, January became Veganuary with incredible levels of participation and media interest. The UK retailers embraced this theme really well, attracting many new consumers, I am certain, to a variety of vegan options. Flexitarianism now accounts for around 80% of Quorn sales.
The good news is, in this market, UK retailers lead the way globally. The meat alternative offering in the UK beats anything else in the world. We often show international retailers UK fixtures to demonstrate the potential. The UK’s £325m meat-free market is the fastest growing category now in frozen and chilled - and set to maintain this growth. If a retailer particularly wants loyalty from the under 35s, then winning in this space is going to be an increasingly important battleground.
There have been recent references to ultra-processed foods in describing meat alternatives. Meat alternatives may also be the result of a process but they offer a better choice for the planet. For instance, Quorn Foods processes don’t start with livestock, but with naturally occurring protein sourced directly from the earth.
These meat alternatives have a very natural element to them and choosing them means a mindful choice to care for the health of everyone around your table, and the health of the planet too.
There now appears to be wide acceptance that in Western economies levels of meat consumption are too high to be sustainable. They lead to unprecedented health issues and the generation of around 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions. As consumers respond to this, clearly many solutions are required. Quorn and many other meat alternatives offer dramatic benefits, including up to 90% fewer emissions and a satfat reduction of up to 85%. As we and others develop a wider range and even better-tasting foods, the category is set to grow for a generation.
Music to Arnie’s ears!
Kevin Brennan is the CEO of Quorn Foods