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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Fish-free fish fingers? Whatever next?

Vegan power is growing. I

This group is no longer on the sideline when it comes to food trends. Sales of vegan and vegetarian options are positively soaring. Food has always been political; think back to the infamous ‘let them eat cake’ announcement. But today it’s now linked more closely to ethics, morals and lifestyle alongside pressing environmental issues.

Do we have a responsibility to manage our own health before we seek medical intervention?

It has taken time to gain traction but consumers are more and more aware of the impact their decisions about food have on the planet. The NHS would like us to feel the same way about our health. Prevention is better than cure so vegans and vegetarians are only going to increase in number.

When consumers demand Waitrose delivers

Waitrose has actually said that it is customer demands that are driving innovation. People want choice. They want to shop ethically (when they can afford to do this of course) However, big supermarkets want to continue to be seen as innovative and worth a visit or a click on a mouse. Vegan and vegetarian offerings are up by 71% last year. This is a figure it would be crazy to ignore. The desire for healthier less meat heavy options goes right across the diet from the everyday to party food. In fact Waitrose’s vegan party food was launched just three months ago and has already increased in sales by 20%.

Are you prepared to be wicked?

There is definitely something afoot here as vegan options are popping up all over the place. In fact there’s never been a better time to be vegan. Waitrose themselves have added 50 lines and other supermarkets are following suit. Tesco for example launched their Tesco Wicked Kitchen range bringing in chef Derek Sarno to create zingy, punchy and crunchy vegan pre cooked meals that cover Mexican, Thai, Indian and other favourites. Tesco saw vegetarian and vegan choices rising by 25% at the beginning of 2018. Ben and Jerry’s have launched vegan ice cream and even Morrissions have their own brand.With more than 20 ready meals and ‘food to go’ options the choice has never been so great. People seem to be making the most of it too.

Be adventurous and try vegan food - you might well be surprised at the innovation

Flexitarians are another group worthy of some attention.

Almost a third of the population in the UK identifies as being flexitarian. This is where meat no longer plays such a central role in every meal that’s eaten during the week. When consumers see the tasty offering that can be created in the vegan range they are very often surprised; it’s just a matter of education. Compare that approach to the rigid diets many people still experienced in the 70s and 80s. Who remembers roast beef on a Sunday, cold meat and pickle with mash on a Monday and then minced leftovers on Wednesday?

Plant based focus and customer demand is on the up.

We cannot ignore all the messages that bombard us from plastic in the seas to the carbon footprint of a beef burger, food miles and the effect of poor food on our health. The healthy and environmental messages may have taken their time to be heard but right now it looks like we’ve reached a tipping point.

Be excited by the possibilities of a vegan diet

This is all very exciting but what implications are there for the food industry as a whole?

Change has probably never been so rapid. The demand for variety, taste, environmental packaging, health, sustainability and price means manufacturers are under increasing pressure. With the need to be agile and innovative the hunt for the right staff to keep brand relevant and popular is on. Workers that are keen to experiment, take risk, be agile, flexible, intelligent and creative might well be few and far between. The ability for any food business to stay on top and remain a trend setter means the company needs the right staff. It also needs to generate an open and even a bottom up management structure. The old guard is being overturned. With reliance on the NHS increasing we all need to take more care of ourselves to keep out of hospital wherever it is possible. Being flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian will certainly help to keep a varied and health conscious lifestyle achievable. The question is will companies find the right staff to really embrace these new ideas and maintain the exciting innovation? What do you think?

We exist to get the most appropriate staff for your company's needs. Our specialist is Food Industry recruitment and we'd love to help you find the right team member. Do give us a call if you think we may be able to help. Why not book a call and talk through your specific food industry recruitment needs.

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