Covid accelerates interestin plant-based foods

Frozen food distributor Central Foods is highlighting the importance of including vegan and vegetarian options on fast food menus

Demand for meat-free menu options has been growing for some time, but as we ease out of lockdown, all the indications suggest that interest in plant-based food has increased as a result of the pandemic.

Gordon Lauder, MD of frozen food distributor Central Foods, said: “A survey by The Vegan Society earlier this year found that 20% of people had reduced the amount of meat they were eating over the previous 12 months, while 12% had minimised their egg and dairy intake, which means that a quarter of all British people have cut back on some form of animal product since the first lockdown.

“We’re seeing more and more evidence that the interest in, and demand for, great-tasting vegan products is increasing all the time, whether it is for health, environmental or sustainability reasons.

“While the number of vegans and vegetarians has been rising, the largest and fastest-growing group of plant-based consumers consists of flexitarians and reducers, who are aiming to cut their consumption of meat, dairy and animal products. As Barclay’s Alternative Meat Market Report estimates, 92% of plant-based meals in the UK are actually consumed by the UK’s estimated 22 million flexitarians – that’s one in three of the total population*.”

More than 25% of the Central Foods product range is now vegan and this has been fuelled by the astonishing growth in demand for plant-based products right across the board, from all sectors of the food service industry, including the fast-food sector.

“During the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, we worked on some further tremendous vegan product development, resulting in our new plant-based range of everyday favourites. This includes KaterVeg! burgers, sausages and meatballs - which are perfect for fast food operators,” added Gordon Lauder. “These products are proving a hit not just with vegan customers, but also with flexitarians who are looking to cut down on their meat/dairy intake.”

Made with seasoned textured soya protein, the products offer fast-food caterers an easy way to serve meat-free menu swaps for popular takeaway options.

“Remember staff must be trained to store/prepare any vegan options in a separate, dedicated vegan area of the kitchen – including using a dedicated vegan fryer - and use dedicated vegan utensils and packaging to avoid any risks of cross-contamination,” added Gordon Lauder.

Central Foods is one of the UK’s leading frozen food suppliers to the food service sector, supplying hundreds of different lines into foodservice, ranging from vegetarian and free-from items, meat products, bakery items and canapés through to buffet products, desserts and puddings. It currently sells to more than 240 independent wholesalers, as well as larger national and regional wholesalers, and foodservice caterers across the entire foodservice industry including fast food operators.

Its range for takeaway and fast-food operators includes the popular Golden Valley Foods poultry products, as well as burgers, sausages – including vegetarian and vegan options - and a sizzling selection of sides.

* Barclay’s Alternative Meat Market Report 2019

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