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Sainsbury's launches new vegan range in response to increasing demand for plant-based products

The retail giant has seen sales of its current meat-free range, grow by 20% each week over the last few months

Food trends over the years

The catering industry has seen its fair share of trends and fads over the years, from 80s salad bars to fondue; not to mention our current preoccupation with everything avocado. However, whilst some of these movements are firmly fixed in the decade from which they sprung (sundried tomatoes) others have stood the test of time (pre-packaged sandwiches.)

In recent years, demand for plant-based foods has soared, with vegan products now infiltrating our supermarket shelves, our restaurant menus and our festivals (Shambala went meat-free back in 2016.) Just five years ago, locating a good, plant-based meal when out and about would have been a laborious task, but caterers (mobile and fixed alike) are increasingly offering at least one plant-based option not merely to appease the herbivores amongst us, but to preserve profitability, such is the prevalence of the movement.

Indeed, events serving vegan only food are also on the rise, with street food giants such as GRUB now hosting a weekly event wholly dedicated to vegan fare: “Plant Powered Sunday has gone from strength to strength and it’s as big an event as our Friday GRUB food fair, on top of which it has the best vibe of any of our regular events” says Jason Bailey, founder of the popular Manchester event.

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s announced this week that it is now investing substantially in its plant-based products, the demand for which has been unprecedented in recent months; with sales of its current meat-free range growing by 20% each week.


Plant-based food movement gains traction

The plant-based movement has gained traction in recent years for various reasons; The Vegan Society cite animal rights as the “main motivation” though the impact that animal agriculture has on the environment is now undeniable, in fact raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions – greater than the emissions produced by all transport combined.

In a society increasingly enamoured with health and “wellness” veganism has also become a lifestyle which people observe in an attempt to improve their health. David Katz of the Yale University Prevention Research Center claims that while there are various diets for optimal human health, “they are mostly made up of whole, wholesome plant foods.”

What’s clear is that whatever the motivation(s) behind this rapidly growing movement, it’s clear that caterers who don’t offer at least one plant-based option on their menu are closing themselves off to potential business and increased profitability.

This doesn’t necessarily mean deviating from your USP, nor does it mean forsaking creativity. We’re seeing more and more members doing plant-based spin offs of other items on their menus; you only have to look at Wingmans’ cauliflower creation (pictured above) or dedicated plant-based caterers such as The Vurger Co to get a sense of what it’s possible to achieve with plant-based food and with some 22 million flexitarians now living in the UK, we’d implore you to have a go.

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