February 9, 2018
Industry News
Content Provided By:

Kantar TNS
[email protected]

As dairy-free sales soar, and Instagram celebrities wield more influence, will we see more vegans in the UK… or simply the rise of flexitarianism?

Google searches for ‘veganism’ in the UK have risen dramatically over the last five years, with a recent peak in October last year. Figures from Kantar show clear progress in the dairy-free market, showing a year-on-year market growth of 18.3%. As a share of the total dairy market, the dairy-free segment has grown from 1.7% to 3.4% in the last five years.

Kantar comments: ‘Over the last few years, the Total Dairy Free Market has seen strong value growth. This is as more shoppers enter the market, as now over 1 in 3 shoppers buy into Dairy Free. This shows Dairy Free is no longer simply for the intolerant.’ In fact, data shows that 29.1% of non-dairy/lactose intolerant households buy Free From dairy products.

‘Although Milk still has the largest share within Dairy Free, strong growth is coming from Cheese (+54.5%) and Yoghurts (+39.7%), showing that other sectors are becoming increasingly important within Dairy Free, and highlighting how Free From is influencing lots of sectors within the Dairy category. Coconut is still the flavour that is driving growth, but Oats and Nuts are also contributing. The heartland of Free From, Soya, is also growing further despite already accounting for over 1/3 of Free From sales.’

Kantar finds that most people are opting for dairy-free products for health reasons – it is the key motivator behind consumption in 64% of occasions. This is particularly true of coconut-based dairy alternatives, which have been lauded as incredibly healthy – and again supported by celebrity backers, such as Madonna.
Data from Kantar also finds that those most likely to be shopping the fixture are younger and more affluent than the average Dairy shopper, with a high proportion of spend on the market coming from those in the capital. There is also a female bias, with women accounting for 61% of consumption. Whilst the more premium prices may be attracting this demographic of shopper, it could also be argued that growth is merely the result of a fashionable trend amongst this group. This suggests it is something that could become more and more mainstream.

Is this really about the newer diet trend - Flexitarianism
At Kantar, qualitative research on diet trends has focused on four categories: vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and ‘meatatarians’ – and the flexi category has been growing steadily.
Flexitarians eat a predominantly vegetarian and occasionally vegan diet, without the restriction of ‘never’ eating meat or fish. Like other diets that are rising in popularity, it has its celebrity supporters, such as Jamie Oliver and Emma Thompson, and it has entered the public consciousness through initiatives like ‘Meat-Free Monday’.
Kantar comments: ‘Flexitarians are those looking to reduce meat consumption, but not become completely vegetarian or vegan. Interestingly, we found several drivers behind this trend, but ‘ethics’ isn’t one of the main ones. Unlike vegans, who are mainly motivated by moral reasons, flexitarians have a myriad reasons for choosing their diet.’

Research from Kantar uncovered seven generic drivers for choosing flexitarianism

The flexitarian trend refers to as a ‘hot spot’ and a ‘very pragmatic way to eat’ – is apparent particularly in developed markets, but is also present in developing and emerging markets, for different reasons.  ‘The interesting thing about flexitarians is how they see their diets. They don’t view it as cutting down on something but more about exploration and trying new things. Millennials and foodies in particular are simply trying to branch out from a meat-and-two-veg approach to dinner time. Brands should consider focusing on the ‘new, exciting, delicious’ labels rather than meat-free or vegan.’

Kantar mentions that they don’t believe flexitarianism will keep growing indefinitely. People will abandon the category in one direction or another. ‘Our prediction is that eventually we will see reduction in this middle category and an increase in the number vegetarians or vegan, as former flexitarians cut out meat completely – this being the stated aim of many of the flexitarians we interviewed. At the same time, we predict a rise in meat loving ‘meatatarians’ – who rebel against the trend and see meat as a necessity, rather than an occasional indulgence.’ 

Visit here to access the full article

Image source:
About Kantar TNS
Kantar TNS is one of the world’s largest research agencies with experts in over 90 countries. With expertise in innovation, brand and communication, shopper activation and customer relationships we help our clients identify, optimise and activate the moments that matter to drive growth for their business.
We are part of Kantar, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consultancy companies.
Find out more at