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Meat-Free Menus Set For More Growth After Lockdown

Consumers’ focus on health during the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to make vegetarian and vegan dishes more prominent on menus than ever when the hospitality industry is able to open again, CGA’s MealMetrics service reveals.

A record number of 125,000 people signing up to the ‘Veganuary’ campaign indicates that the pandemic has prompted many people to adopt meat-free diets. CGA’s MealMetrics showed that the number of food pubs offering vegetarian and vegan burgers jumped from 70% ahead of the UK’s first national lockdown to more than 80% by October 2020—and with an average meal price of £9.90, these items have frequently provided good margins.

CGA’s separate BrandTrack research meanwhile found that a quarter (25%) of consumers in Britain were seeking to reduce their meat consumption, adding to the 6% of people already following meat-free diets. Increasing awareness of the environmental impacts of meat production has added to interest in vegetarian and vegan diets.

MealMetrics highlights major opportunities for suppliers and operators to capitalise on meat-free eating when the out-of-home market returns. The first of its kind service from CGA uncovers monthly dish-level insights, tracking value and volume rate of sale, pricing, distribution and much more. Drawing on £4bn of aggregated food till sales data from more than 7,000 pubs, bars and restaurants, it is designed to help businesses understand trends in meal choices and pricing, and improve category strategies, investment plans and sales propositions.

CGA’s client director Fiona Speakman says: “The rapid growth in vegetarian and vegan diets is a big opportunity for pubs, restaurants and the foodservice sector. Eating habits evolve fast and the pandemic has brought even more nuances to consumers’ behaviour, so it is vital for all businesses to stay right on top of changing choices for when the market reopens”.