Consumers move to healthier, plant-based foods while cutting meat consumption

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers are looking for more plant-based and sustainable foods
Consumers are looking for more plant-based and sustainable foods

Related tags: vegan

UK diet habits are changing as healthier, plant-based food choices become more popular, new research has revealed.

The survey conducted by research company Toluna asked 1,160 adults aged 18+ in the UK about their food choices and preferences on Thursday, 5 May to understand the latest diet trends in the UK. 

It found that nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said they wanted to consume food and drink products that are healthier, plant-based, and more sustainable.

The biggest trend was in the reduction in meat-based food products, with 50% of people either starting or continuing to reduce their meat intake. The proportion of people who say they’re meat-eaters has reduced from 83% to 78% since 2019. One in 14 said they were planning to continue or go vegan, while 12% said the same for vegetarianism. 


Those surveyed revealed that they wanted plant-based foods which tasted like the non-plant-based versions. This is most true for things like steak, cakes, cheese, egg, fish, and chocolate.

Over half (57%) felt that plant-based products were healthy but 10% thought they were unhealthy  citing that they are highly processed, lack relevant nutrients, or include a high number of additives. 

But that doesn’t mean that consumers don’t still want a treat. ​Over half (57%) of respondents said that they treat themselves to food or drink they enjoy to improve their mood or simply to indulge. For 42% of consumers, mango was the most exciting flavour to try, followed by passionfruit (38%), wild cherry (35%), banana (34%) and cherry blossom (31%). 


The research said that other, less-popular flavours, such as yuzu (11%), mangosteen (10%), and calamansi (8%) are trending up, which  puts them in the realm of ‘premium’ and, with potential to become increasingly popular among consumers. 

With healthier, plant-based food and drink products an increasingly popular choice among consumers, there’s a clear opportunity for food and drink brands to be more innovative with the products they’re offering to consumers in order to make them switch brands and try a new alternative,” ​said Magda Jablkowska-Citko, research director at Toluna. 

“Diet trends in the UK are continuing to evolve, and now is the time for food and drink brands to capitalise on the opportunities this presents to provide products tailored to consumer preferences. Those brands that can appeal to consumers’ curiosities with more variety, flavours, and even textures, are likely to experience the most success.”

Related topics: Veganism

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