June 16, 2021

The pandemic has fuelled a 15% rise in ‘flexitarian’ diets in the UK, according to new research from retail tech app Ubamarket.

While the pandemic has prompted radical changes to the way we work and approach our health and wellbeing, periods of lockdown have also triggered diet considerations in an overwhelming fashion.

The research reported that 31% of Britons – 16.1 million – are eating more vegetarian and vegan meals than ever before; 32% of the UK population are also consciously trying to eat less meat, for reasons ranging from their health to the environmental impact of the agriculture industry.

The Vegan Society recently found that one in five Britons cut down their meat consumption during the pandemic, while 15% have reduced their dairy intake. Furthermore, the latest Veganuary campaign saw the largest uptake ever, with over 500,000 Brits pledging to eat vegan diets in the month of January.

With a rising ubiquity of flexitarian diets, the research has found that Brits are spending €29 a week on vegetarian and vegan products, totalling a staggering €1.5 billion a year.

Ubamarket, the innovative retail shopping app, commissioned nationally representative research across over 2,000 UK adults to reveal how dietary trends have been reshaped over the course of the last year.

Will Broome, Chief Executive of Ubamarket, said other key statistics in the research include: 
36% of meat-eaters – representing 19 million Brits – are buying vegetarian and vegan specialist products;
26% of Brits said that trends like Veganuary and Sugar Awareness Week are shaping their shopping habits;
23% of Brits are stocking up on gluten-free meals despite not having any intolerance.

The rise of flexitarianism
The popularity of the flexitarian diet is growing, with millions more people adopting eating habits that reduce the amount of meat, dairy and eggs they eat. The current market for meat-free products, in the UK, is expected to be valued at €766m by the end of this year, up from €666m in 2017. 

Broome said: “With vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets on the rise – especially after a year of lockdowns –  it is great to see that supermarkets are responding to wider ethical issues to meet consumer demand and become increasingly aware of varying diets. Retailers are welcoming meat-free diets into the mainstream by incorporating products into the general layout of a store rather than relegating them to a few shelves in the corner.

“Our research has shown that shoppers find it difficult to locate specialty items in-store, leading to frustration and confusion. The importance of having systems in place that grant freedom for shoppers to make their own dietary decisions has never been more apparent. 

“With easier ways to identify important allergens and ingredients on labels, more convenient store layouts and a smoother shopping format, consumers will be able to subscribe to alternative diets with ease.”

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