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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Honestly, I am not obsessed by Vegan food trends

However, I am incredibly interested and excited by the innovation that is at the heart of this niche of the food sector.

We work with clients across the food and ingredients sector helping them to secure the best leadership talent and obviously I am fascinated by trends. What’s happening in the headlines exposes the types of hires required. It takes lots of time to find the exact fit for some extremely challenging roles. The more of a heads up I can create for myself, the better results I can deliver for my clients.

Photo: Nadine Primeau.

The money is on the vegan burger joint

In the press in recent weeks, there has been a flurry of activity around vegan burger joints. Who would have thought that the demand for plant-based food would be so high? What was once considered niche is becoming mainstream. When stars like Lewis Hamilton back a company like Neat Burgers you know some serious money is going to be pumped into this venture. Lewis Hamilton has been a vegan since 2011 and is committed to the cause. In fact, he has worked with The Cream Group and investors such as UNICEF Ambassador and Tommaso Chiabra to create Neat Burger since 2019. This is not a flash in the vegan pan!

Photo: Deryn Macey

We know that Hamilton is always quick off the grid

This trait clearly extends to his business interests too. After all, Neat Burger was dubbed ‘Best Vegan Restaurant of The Year’ by the Deliveroo Restaurant Awards. By bringing Hamilton on board then it is obvious that the business will expand ‘rapidly’. I mean, what other speed would Hamilton drive anything? With plans to add another seven outlets to their portfolio is also an exciting indicator that vegan has some economic clout.

Photo: Marcel Strauss

Is this a watershed moment as we start going out to eat?

There is so much discussion around climate change and the impact humans have been having on the planet by every aspect of contemporary living. Sometimes it seems hard to deal with the slew of bad news that comes to us through various devices. However, making the decision to reduce meat or even cut it from our diets seems like a practical way to help. As we also approach a return to eating out and being together it seems to mark a watershed moment where we change behaviours for positive reasons. Photo: LikeMeat

Vegan food producers are busting myths and traditional perceptions

In addition, you will have seen the Violife tv ad campaign that is underscoring the vegan barbeque as summer finally showed its face during the first week of June. Violife is a vegan cheese producer. The kind of processed cheese slice that often ends up on a burger can be neatly substituted with Violife – I have tried it. The whole range is made from a coconut base and contains additional vitamin B12. The new BBQ Slices are flavoured with red pepper and garlic. Making tasty alternatives is important for vegan producers. In addition, it’s essential to demonstrate clearly that vegan food will perform well when put up against conventional dairy products. Violife is no longer considered niche as it appears in Asda and Sainsbury’s and also in the Pizza Hut chain.

Flavour is key and flavourings are also seminal to the success of any product

But I do feel this is especially so when it comes to vegan food. Firmenich are a company that knows just about everything there is to know about flavours. In 2021 they announced that Ginger and Yuzu were their flavourings of choice. This might sound traditional but Firmenich has based this on surveys undertaken around what people have wanted as Covid impacted on their lives. The surveys demonstrate that consumers wanted strength and wellness from the food they consumed. This is something that is becoming increasingly significant. People are now saying, ‘If resources are being used to create my food, then it needs to be worth the effort. Right now highly nutritious and vegan food is still being offered at a price premium but hopefully that might develop.

Firmenich meanwhile have also developed a Flavour Knowledge Portal

They’ve done this by teaming up with Mintel GNPD. For the past decade they have been collecting data based on product launches in both food and beverages. This has allowed them to see just what flavours are resonating with consumers. Ginger and Yuzu were popular before but expect to see them used even more as they are both considered ‘super ingredients’.

A company like Firmenich recruits regularly and currently are looking for:

Sensory Panelist, Associate Scientist, R&D , Senior Technician, Analytical Chemistry, Research & Dev. Senior Process Engineer, Scientist, Director of Human Sensory, Perception & Bio-Respon, (Senior) Scientist, Process Engineering, Senior Scientist Industrial Biotechnology

These are just the openings in R&D, however there are plenty of others in Global Logistics; Global Supply Chain ops, Internal Logistics Team Leader and the list goes on. It’s a pity many youngsters are often not aware of the opportunities available in the food and ingredients niche. It’s not about flipping burgers in a fast-food restaurant; they might be leading a team of scientists that grows the protein to make the vegan burger that ‘bleeds’ like meat. The future is exciting; we just need to find the quality candidates to lead the charge.

If you would like to chat about a vacancy in this sector please do book an appointment here for a no obligation discussion. I would love to speak with you.


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