Almost half of vegans and a quarter of vegetarians are dissatisfied with the choice of food products available to them, according to research revealed by Ingredient Communications, UK.
Ingredient Communications commissioned Surveygoo, UK, to conduct an online survey of 1,000 consumers (500 each in the UK and United States).
Overall, 4% said they were vegan, although this figure was higher in the United States (6%) and among 18-24-year olds (13%). A further 4% were vegetarian, with 3% describing themselves as pescatarian.
The survey also suggests that a large number of consumers are planning major changes to their diets over the coming year. Three in five vegetarians (60%) are considering becoming vegan. This trend was considerably higher in the United States, where 90% said they were considering veganism, as opposed to 33% in the UK. More than four in 10 meat-eaters (42%) intend to reduce their meat consumption or stop eating meat altogether.
Despite vegetarianism and veganism becoming more mainstream, almost half the vegans surveyed (46%) said they were dissatisfied with the choice of suitable food and beverage products available. Although vegetarians were more likely to be happy, 23% said they were dissatisfied with product choices.
“Our research indicates the scale and pace of the shift toward vegetable-based diets. Whatever the reason for their choices – ethical, environmental or health-related ― many consumers expect the food industry to do more to keep up with them. For manufacturers of both finished products and ingredients, it’s clear that there are rewards for putting greater focus on the needs of vegans and vegetarians,” says Richard Clarke, founder and managing director of Ingredient Communications.
Dissatisfaction with product choice was particularly high in the United States, where 50% of vegans said they were not happy with the options available vs. 36% in the UK. Similarly, American vegetarians were more likely to be dissatisfied with the range of suitable product options (31%) compared to 15% in the UK.
One reason for this could be that American consumers have higher expectations of product availability.
When asked which factors had influenced their decision, 69% of vegans and 64% of vegetarians cited animal welfare. The next most common factor was “concerns about my health,” according to 48% of vegans and 54% of vegetarians.
Another key finding from the survey was the popularity of new categories, such as pescatarianism.
“In the past, there was more a less a binary choice between eating meat or not,” says Neil Cary, managing director of Surveygoo. “Our research suggests high numbers of people are adopting a more nuanced, flexible approach to their diets and lifestyles.”