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Vegan meat replacements to make up 60% of global market by 2040

Abigail Fenton
A shopper chooses a package of Beyond Meat from a freezer in a supermarket. Photo: Richard B. Levine/SIPA USA/PA Images
More vegan meat products are now being offered at UK supermarkets. Photo: Richard B Levine/SIPA USA/PA Images

Vegan meat replacements are set to overtake real meat products by 2040, according to new research.

A report by consultancy firm AT Kearney based on interviews with industry experts predicts 60% of the “meat” products Brits consume in 2040 will be plant-based replacements or cultured alternatives.

According to AT Kearney, this change is likely to be driven by concerns about the environmental impact of meat production and animal welfare.

READ MORE: Vegan firm's use of word “cheese” grates dairy industry

The livestock industry is now “viewed by many as an unnecessary evil”, the report’s authors stated.

They predicted: “With the advantages of novel vegan meat replacements and cultured meat over conventionally produced meat, it is only a matter of time before they capture a substantial market share.”

They broke down the numbers surrounding livestock and their impact on harvest production, stating nearly half of the worldwide harvest is required to feed the livestock population and that twice as many humans could be fed if they consumed the harvest directly.

READ MORE: We got a vegan and meat-eater to try a fermented soy burger with coconut oil cheese – here's what they thought

The report predicted 35% of all meat will be cultured – produced by in-vitro cultivation of animal cells, instead of from slaughtered animals – in just over two decades, while a quarter will become vegan replacements.

In light of this, a survey of 2,000 shoppers by app Ubamarket found Brits spend £25 per week on vegetarian and vegan products, totalling £1.3bn a year.

Over a third (36%) of meat-eaters – representing 19 million Brits – are already buying vegetarian and vegan specialist products.

READ MORE: Brits spent over £1.3bn on vegan and vegetarian products in 2018

And 32% – 16.72 million – are trying to eat less meat, for reasons ranging from health to the environmental impact, while 31% – 16 million – are eating more meat-free meals than ever.

This is in part a result of charity campaigns such as Veganuary, with a quarter (26%) of Brits saying these trends have shaped their shopping habits.

But a quarter of shoppers – 13 million Brits – find supermarket layouts make shopping for meat-free products difficult, according to the survey.

READ MORE: We got a vegan and meat-eater to try London's first vegan “fish and chips”

Recent changes in eating habits has meant that supermarkets had to adapt their in-store offering to changing consumer demand.

As well as seeing an increased amount of vegan and vegetarian selections across the country, supermarkets like Tesco have announced plans to start selling vegan options in meat aisles to promote sustainability.

The research shows shoppers find it difficult to locate speciality items in-store, leading to frustration and confusion, and that meat-free diets may be welcomed into the mainstream faster by supermarkets incorporating products into the general layout of a store rather than relegating them to a few shelves in the corner.

READ MORE: When vegan is a dirty word

Will Broome, CEO of Ubamarket, said: “The ever-increasing popularity of living meat-free lifestyles shows supermarkets should adapt to the increase in demand for vegetarian and vegan products.

“The importance of having systems in place that grant freedom for shoppers to make their own dietary decisions has never been more apparent.

“With more convenient store layouts and a smoother shopping format, consumers will be able to subscribe to alternative diets with ease.”