Despite record global sign up to Veganuary this year, UK consumer appetite for vegan products fell short this January with a decline in retail volume sales of both meat-free and dairy-free alternatives.
AHDB and Kantar analysis shows over a million fewer households bought meat-free products compared to last January, and 280,000 fewer households bought dairy-free.
This drop in households purchasing alternatives led to a fall in year-on-year volumes with meat-free sales falling by 12.9 percent and 2.6 percent for dairy-free, in the first three weeks of January 2023.
At the start of the month seven percent of shoppers said they were committed to taking part in the annual event, encouraged by heavy instore promotions and an array of new product offers.
But, by mid-month as many as 70 percent had returned to their normal diets, with 40 percent claiming it was too expensive and another 40 percent struggling to find vegan food and drink they enjoyed.
This softening in demand isn’t new to 2023, there has been overall volume decline in the last 12 months for both dairy and meat alternatives.
Consumer Insight Manager Grace Randall explained “Interest in meat and dairy-free alternatives has started to peter off, with google searches now half that of ‘peak vegan’ in 2019. Taste and affordability remain the primary issues for consumers, as even with record inflation, alternatives are generally more expensive than real products and don’t taste as good.
“Meat, fish and poultry is around 10 percent cheaper than their vegan counterparts, whilst cow’s milk is on average £0.50 per litre less expensive than dairy alternatives and both are unrivalled in their nutritional offering in a healthy balanced diet.”
Committed alternative shoppers are also feeling the pinch with many turning to own brand labels for their alternatives, big brand purchases in dairy-free have dropped by 7 percent and meat-free by 5.9 percent in the last year.
The increasing financial pressures hitting the UK in 2023 will continue to push consumers away from experimenting with their weekly shop and sticking to firm favourites.