"The demand for meat-free products has shown to be sustainable. In the aftermath of the 2001 BSE crisis, the market has grown again by 3 per cent," said Gerard Klein Essink, senior researcher at Prosoy Research & Strategy. "Meat-free consumption is here to stay."
Factors driving this trend include a growing interest in healthy foods, an ageing and more health focused population and food safety issues related to meat and increased animal welfare concerns.
"New European and national health claims regulations on soya, which are now being drawn up are likely to have an impact in the years ahead as well. Particularly because medical research on soya has already shown positive effects on blood cholesterol levels and heart diseases, bone strength and menopausal problems," said Essink.
There has also been a great deal of innovation in the meat-free ready meal market. Sales of chilled products have grown more rapidly than frozen meat-free sales. For example Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD) indicates 65 new meat-free launches in 2003 in the eight European countries covered in the report.
The report, entitled The European market for Meat-free 2004, is part of the research report Soyfoods: The European market 2004, which covers Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
This year is the first time that the report covers Sweden, which Prosoy claims gives the report a broader European view. The developments in other food categories such bars, bread and bakery are reported for the first time as well.