Demand for vegan products continued to rise last year, with more than 70 trademarks for new vegan products registered in 2020.
The number of vegan trademarks applications last year was the second highest on record behind 2019, which saw 92 registered, according to corporate commercial law firm EMW.
Demand for new vegan foods was one of the main drivers for the rise in research and development spend by the largest 30 food and drink manufacturers, which grew 43% from £4.4bn to £6.3bn per year in the last five years.
Daisy Divoka, senior associate at EMW, said greater consumer concern over food sustainability sparked the explosion in popularity of vegan products in the last decade.
“Those issues driving increased adoption of vegan diets are only going to become more pressing in the future,” she added. “This trend still has a long way to run and will inevitably be influenced further by changes in our lifestyle as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Now, large players are spending money on developing new, vegan alternatives to animal products as the market continues to move in that direction. This means they are also having to invest more in protecting that valuable intellectual property through trademarks and patents.”
Vegetable consumption pledge
As more consumers turn to plant-based options for their meals, 100 businesses have pledged to help boost vegetable consumption in the UK.
Major retail, manufacturing and hospitality businesses have signed up to the Peas Please initiative to make vegetables more appealing, accessible and affordable for everyone.
Companies joining the initiative include manufacturers Mars Food and Mash Direct and retailers Waitrose, Tesco, Co-op, Sainsbury and Lidl.
These latest commitments now mean 80% of UK retailers have pledged to major initiatives to help drive up vegetable consumption in the lead up to the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September and COP26 in November.
Food Foundation executive director Anna Taylor said: “It is great to see 100 major food businesses commit to increasing veg consumption to support better health for millions of people.
“Transparent and regular reporting against targets is vital if we are to turn the tide on our current dietary crisis and see future generations face a better and healthier future with everyone having access to an affordable and sustainable diet.”
Diet and climate change
New pledges to encourage vegetable consumption come as the Vegan Society pressured Government to act on dietary change and stop ignoring the science that links diets and climate change.
The society said statements taken from the government website suggested officials intend to ignore the recommendation that dietary change and targets to reduce the consumption of animal products should form part of the UK’s plan.
It accused the Government of disregarding the impact of reducing animal meat intake, despite recent comments from business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng acknowledging that vegans – and those actively reducing their meat intake – were driving the progress forward.
The society claimed Kwarteng’s suggestion that people are coming to that conclusion without government interference failed to acknowledge that there were still too many educational and institutional barriers that slow the adoption of plant-based diets – particularly among those who were not motivated by animal rights or welfare.
Louise Davies, chief executive of The Vegan Society, said: “There is a long list of interventions, big and small, that do not restrict people’s freedom to choose, but bring down those barriers that currently discourage people from choosing healthy, ethical and climate-friendly vegan options.
“If it wants to tackle the multiple public health and environmental crises that we face the Government must rethink its approach to dietary change before the COP26 climate conference later this year [as] failing to do so will mean wasted time and wasted lives.”
Meanwhile, you can still watch our exclusive virtual conference, The Future of Plant-Based Proteins: Roots of Further Growth through our on-demand video service.
Pitched primarily at operations managers, technical managers and product developers, the conference is composed of five sessions and examines the full production cycle for plant-based products, from NPD to processing and ingredients sourcing.