Ethical Food & Drink
Figures show that sales of ethical food products increased at a faster rate during the pandemic.
Ethical retailer Suma said “Changes in buying habits are usually gradual” but this is “not so with Covid19.” They suggest that during Covid pro-active self-care was on the rise, and people were becoming more conscious of food provenance and ethical sourcing. Younger age groups were especially likely to favour buying less meat, and plant-based, organic and fair trade products.
Our research showed that the markets for meat-free and dairy-free, organic, and fair trade food and drinks are all growing.
Meat & Dairy Free
According to our YouGov survey, 15% of respondents followed vegetarian or vegan diets in 2020, compared to 13% in 2019.
The market for meat-free and dairy-free products grew by 11% from 2018 to 2019, rising from £1bn to just over £1.1bn. In 2010, the meat- and dairy-free market was valued at £541m.
In the three months leading up to April 2020, when lockdown appeared imminent in the UK and non-essential travel was advised against, until the public were told to “stay at home” on 23 March, sales of meat- and dairy-free products skyrocketed. Meat-free sales increased by 25% over the three month period, and dairy-free products by 28%.
Panic-buying and stockpiling may have contributed to this increase, though it’s worth noting that these figures far outstrip the 15% increase seen across grocery shopping in the UK generally during this period.
Increased spending on meat- and dairy-free products is a trend that looks set to continue. Our survey shows that 30% of people intend to eat less meat and dairy in future.
Before the March 2020 lockdown, 20% of people regularly bought plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy (such as soya milk, tofu, plant-based burgers). Nearly 30% intend to buy more alternatives in future.