What’s the latest on the ‘flexitarian’ trend?

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cashew cheese, a vegan alternative. Photo: istock/Byheaven
Cashew cheese, a vegan alternative. Photo: istock/Byheaven
As a plant-based diet becomes more on trend, analysts from Innova Market Insights reveal “new opportunities to target vegans, vegetarians, non-meat eaters, and non red-meat eaters.”

In the CPG sector, meat alternatives​ are popping out here and there, either for consumers craving a meat-like texture (think jackfruit​), or to add more protein​ in their diets sans meat using plant ingredients.

More consumers are taking an even deeper plunge—not just abstaining from meat, but any animal-derived products and by-products. Analysis from last year announced at the Expo West 2015 show revealed that veganism is going mainstream​.

But then there’s “flexitarianism,” a recently minted term used to describe consumers who still eat meat, but intentionally less of it, adhering to a primarily plant-based diet instead.

Market opportunities

“New opportunities are emerging for so-called flexitarians, who mainly eat a plant-based diet, but do occasionally eat meat,”​ said Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights in a press release.

Speaking numbers, there was a 60% rise in global food and beverage new product launches bearing a vegetarian claim between 2011 and 2015. Increases were also seen for products with a vegan claim, now accounting for 4.3% of total global product introductions in 2015, up from 2.8% in 2014.

In the US, the figures were higher, with 7.5% of new food and beverage launches in 2015 to date featuring vegan claims, said Innova: “The snacks, cereals, ready meals, bakery, and soft drink categories together account for half of US new product launches tracked with a vegetarian and/or vegan claim between 2011 and 2015."

'High quality meat alternative opportunities'

“This trend represents a growing opportunity for high-quality meat alternatives, which is also being reflected in the 24% average annual growth in global meat substitute launches recorded between 2011 and 2015​,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.

Globally, the US lags behind some other countries with 38% of consumers to eat meatless meals once a week or more compared to Germany’s 68%. However, there are already 120 million Americans that eat meatless meals, offering a sizeable market opportunity to reach a wide audience.

Innova will present key trends on harnessing the flexitarian consumer at the IFT 2016 Taste the Trend pavilion in Chicago (booth #2884). A 20-minute preview webinar​ on 'The Flexitarian Effect' will take place on July 13, 2016 at 9am EST.

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