Although the number of vegetarian consumers has remained static over the past year, sales of meat-free foods have increased 5.8% to £243m and 2.8% by volume [Kantar Worldpanel 52w/e 1 November 2009].
Suppliers said that meat eaters were being attracted by the health and value credentials of options such as Quorn, which is seen as a lower-fat and cheaper source of protein than meat. "It is now second nature in a lot of meat-eating households to use veggie mince instead of minced meat due to its fat content," said Vanessa Brown, head of corporate relations for the Vegetarian Society.
Premier Foods said a 7% rise in sales of its Quorn business was down to a stronger focus on value over the past year. However, it added that its premium vegetarian brand Cauldron had "had a more difficult year", as consumers traded down from organic and top-end items.
The recession was also blamed for the demise of New Covent Garden Food Company's first venture outside soup.
Its ill-fated Sprout veggie ready meals were launched in Waitrose last March, but this week the company confirmed it had de-listed the range.
Nigel Parrott, New Covent Garden group marketing director, said: "New Covent Garden has a continuous new product development programme.
"A commercial decision was taken to withdraw Sprout from sale in September last year as we continued to focus on other areas of NPD."