Caterers missing out on £700m meat-free market

Caterers are missing out on a £700m market in meat-free options.


The latest research suggests that three in five UK adults now eat meat-free food, with 3% (approximately 1.8m) of adults actively identifying themselves as vegetarians [National Statistics].


The Vegetarian Society says that the amount of ‘occasional veggies’ or ‘meat reducers’ – diners opting for meat free options when eating out – could be as high as 5%, and is predicted to rise creating a potential £700m marketplace [Mintel, 2010] as health and variety of choice become key factors in the out-of-home dining experience.


The catering industry has a responsibility, and an opportunity, to encourage consumers to try meat-free dishes, according to Jus-Rol Professional. With National Vegetarian Week (21 – 27 May, 2012) on the horizon, the pastry specialist has called on caterers to take a second look at their menus.


Research from Mintel suggests that meat-free food has suffered from a consumer perception of being bland and boring. Jus-Rol Professional is calling on caterers to dispel this myth by turning their hands to creating a raft of delicious meat-free dishes using its award-winning pastry.


“We are in an era where a growing number of consumers – not just vegetarians – are making a lifestyle choice and looking to reduce their meat intake,” said John McKears, foodservice sales manager at Jus-Rol Professional. “Gone are the days when caterers could simply provide a standard ‘default ‘vegetarian option.


“This research proves that there is a captive audience out there actively searching out more exciting meat-free dishes. This is an important change in UK dining habits and the modern menu needs to reflect this.”


In the past couple of years the arguments for eating less meat on environmental grounds have intensified. However, clear direction from government has been lacking.


As Sue Dibb, executive director of the Food Ethics Council pointed out recently:

“There’s lots [of advice to consumers] on healthy, lots on green living – but we’re a long way from having joined up information from government.


The closest anyone has come to a sustainable diet is the Livewell  Plate, developed by WWF. The likes of WWF have been advocating a move to eat less meat, rather than to go vegetarian.