LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From vegan burgers to vegan boots, the market for products using no animal products is surging, with climate-conscious consumers in Britain fuelling the global dash to cash in on a fast- expanding range of ethical merchandise.
With the 25th annual World Vegan Month starting on Nov. 1, Britain has overtaken Germany to become the nation with the highest number of new vegan food products launched in a year, according to market research firm Mintel.
About 16% of food products launched in 2018 had a vegan claim, up from 8% in 2015, with the sector growing about 30 percent in the year to 740 million pounds ($955 million), the firm said. No earlier figures were available.
While vegan food sales were surging, no data was available to track sales of other vegan products, ranging from kilts to lipstick, as celebrities fanned the trend.
U.S. musician Lady Gaga launched a vegan make-up range this year and Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton helping to open a meat-free burger chain.
The surge in demand comes as more consumers take note of data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showing livestock produce 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally and cause large-scale deforestation.
Emma Clifford, associate director of food and drink at Mintel, said the boom was being driven by a change in consumer mindset and an explosion of exciting, new vegan products in a sector once seen as “bland, very uninspiring”.
“I don’t think anyone expected the vegan market to explode the way it has,” Clifford told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“We’re expecting the growth that we currently see in meat-free foods to carry on over the next five years ... We think the trend has got a lot of longevity.”
In terms of food, products like vegan haggis and vegan burgers that bleed like meat, have injected “an exciting, foodie element into this category”, said Clifford.
But other industries have also taken up the vegan trend with Mintel predicting an uptick this year in fashion retailers releasing vegan shoe collections.
Brands including Adidas and Steve Madden have launched vegan lines while Britain’s Dr. Martens - made famous by punk music fans - stomped into the market with a vegan boot.
One of the biggest names in British retail, Marks & Spencer Group Plc, expanded its range of vegan clothing and accessories this spring to keep up with consumer demand.
The first Vegan Fashion Week ran in Los Angeles in February.
Cosmetic companies have joined the bandwagon with supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, British health and beauty retailer Superdrug, and Swedish fashion retailer H&M offering vegan lines.
“We’ve seen brands and supermarkets fully embrace this trend,” Clifford said.
But vegan food remained the frontrunner in the sector, becoming Britain’s fastest-growing takeaway, according to research by the British Takeaway Campaign - and the big chains were joining the meat-free movement.
The world’s No 1 burger chain, McDonald’s Corp, recently announced a trial of meatless burgers in Canada while vegan cheese is available at Pizza Hut in Australia.
Vegan menus are taking off with airlines including at United Airlines, Ryanair, Hawaiian Airlines and Cathay Pacific, while beer maker Guinness has removed fish guts in its filtration system to make its stout vegan friendly.
In the United States, major agricultural firms are investing in the fake-meat market, which now accounts for 5% of U.S. meat purchases according to investment management firm Bernstein. That share is expected to triple over a decade, the firm said.
“Consumers are starting to realize that the kind of dirty supply chain of industrialized animal agriculture isn’t something they want to support,” said Zak Weston, food service analyst at U.S.-based non-profit, The Good Food Institute.
“As more and more consumers realize that, they’re starting to make choices ... which reflect that new-found motivation to do good in the world.”
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.