While the number of people going vegan has risen over the past few years, 91% of vegans still struggle to find suitable ‘grab and go’ food options. But things are changing fast and what’s remarkable is how quickly vegan options are now becoming mainstream with a raft of recent new innovations in this space.

This article is an extract. For the fuller article, see the latest issue of Sandwich & Food to go News (which BSA members can access here).

Suppliers have also been busy developing new plant-based alternatives.This year’s Veganuary was bigger than ever with the number of sign-ups racing past the 250,000 people that officially took part in January 2019. But the opportunity is far greater than this single, month-long campaign. 

The growth statistics around veganism and plant-based diets are not hard to find. Research by finder.com shows that the number of vegans is predicted to increase by 327% this year, taking the vegan population in the UK to around 2.9 million people. Another survey already puts this figure 3.5 million, not forgetting an estimated 22 million “flexitarians” – those who enjoy meat and dairy but want to reduce their consumption. 

In fact, Brits spent over £1.3bn on vegan and vegetarian products in 2018 alone, according to Ubamarket. One in five adults follow a flexitarian diet or are reducing their meat consumption, says the Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2018.

A recent IGD ShopperVista report states: ‘70% of 18-24 year olds are reducing, or thinking about reducing, their meat intake and nearly 10% are now vegan most or all of the time.

Finally, according to a Mintel Blog: ‘Over half of Brits think that vegan food is healthy, compared to just a third who believe non-vegan food is.  However, here’s the opportunity: when it comes to the enjoyment factor only two-fifths feel that vegan food is tasty, compared to over half who say the same about non-vegan food.’ This may explain the rise of the ‘Dirty Vegan’ trend – a vegan take on street food favourites attempting to pack in flavour and bring some excitement and sense of indulgence to vegan offerings.  But whatever your source, it’s clear that demand for tasty, meat-free options continues to rise. Here we call out some of the latest launches by BSA members.

1.Greggs launch Vegan Steak Bake 

Greggs put an end to months of speculation with the launch of its Vegan Steak Bake early in January.

Created to mirror some of the original Steak Bake’s classic features, it includes 96 layers of light and crisp puff pastry, and is made with Quorn pieces, diced onions and a gravy filling.

Greggs’ Vegan Sausage Roll launched in January 2019 to critical acclaim - becoming one of its fastest selling products of the last six years.

The Greggs product development team has apparently been working for months on the Vegan Steak Bake recipe, recruiting a whole panel of vegan and non-vegan taste testers to ensure its flavours hit the spot.

Roger Whiteside, chief executive at Greggs, said: “Our Vegan Sausage Roll launch was a huge success and we’ve been working tirelessly to expand our vegan friendly offering and provide more delicious savoury food on-the-go options for people looking to reduce their meat intake.

“The launch of our Vegan Steak Bake is another key milestone on our journey to become our customers’ favourite for food-on-the-go. We look forward to hearing the feedback."

2. Subway launches Meatless Meatball Marinara!

Subway has launched a meatless version of its classic Sub, the Meatless Meatball Marinara. The vegan option has all the flavour of the original, and comes with the original Marinara sauce and topped with slices of melted vegan cheese. The Meatless Meatball Marinara joins an existing line-up of meat-free options at Subway, including the Vegan Sub, Vegan Salad and Hash Browns. Vegan sauces include Garlic Aioli, Sriracha Hot Chilli or Sweet Onion.

3. Mission Foods supplies vegan-friendly alternatives 

Mission Foods, manufacturer of the world’s number one tortilla, supports operators who are looking to expand and update their current menus by supplying vegan-friendly alternatives. Research shows that 93% of plant-based meals are eaten by non-vegans, so having exciting meat-free alternatives is crucial, not just for January but all year round too.

 Anna Nafalska-Veillat, Shopper, Foodservice & E-Commerce Marketing Manager, Mission Foods, highlights how her business' range is evolving. "All Mission Tortillas and Tortilla Chips have been created to be suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets, providing operators and chefs with a diverse and flexible foundation for the creation of tasty plant-based menus. With an in-depth range of Plain, Bar-Marked and Flavoured Tortillas, there’s a product to suit any recipe or meal adaptation. With options such as Beetroot & Chia, Tomato & Chilli and Spinach Wheat Flour Tortillas readily available, you have the opportunity to enhance your dishes with additional flavours and vibrant colours, alongside the more traditional plain tortilla options."