This report covers the retail market for vegetarian/meat-free foods and free-from foods, that is, specialist dietary foods targeted at intolerance and allergy sufferers. For the purposes of this report, it can be broken down as follows:
- Meat-free or vegetarian foods for in-home consumption, including ready meals, sausages, burgers, shaped, deli, ingredients (eg vegetarian mince), pastry products and snacks.
- Within these categories, the market size includes meat substitutes, or dishes made using meat substitutes, as well as vegetable-based dishes, including vegetable-based mainstream dishes suitable for vegetarians or meat avoiders. Meat substitutes are products typically made from textured vegetable protein such as soy that imitate the texture, flavour and appearance of certain types of meat, such as beef, poultry or fish. This includes products like mycoprotein-based Quorn.
‘Free-from’ foods, or foods catering for hypersensitivity, ie food intolerance and allergies:
- Foods that are manufactured and targeted specifically at consumers who suffer from food intolerance and/or food allergies or who are following avoidance diets. Foods that have been specially manufactured (eg pasta, bread) to cater for a gluten-free diet, for instance, are included within this definition.
- Foods targeted at intolerance and allergy sufferers include:
- Wheat-free, gluten-free (WF/GF) – the majority of products are marketed as being both wheat- and gluten-free, as gluten is present in wheat, thus for this report they have been grouped together.
- Gluten is found in a range of cereals, including wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Oats contain a similar protein and they are also included in the EU list of gluten-containing cereals. As well as gluten intolerance (coeliac disease), people can be allergic to wheat. Wheat-free products could still contain gluten from other cereals such as barley or rye, and gluten-free products could contain other allergenic proteins from wheat.
- Dairy-free: this category includes all cow’s milk alternative products, including mammalian milk alternatives and non-mammalian milk alternatives, ie not only soya-based (eg rice and others). Most people who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to milk from sheep, goats, buffalo etc and so products sold as milk-free should not contain any animal milk – the EU legislation on the allergens that have to be listed does not just include cow’s milk.
- However, the proteins in goat’s milk, for example, are different and the fat particles are smaller and form a softer curd in the stomach. This means some people can tolerate goat’s milk much better than cow’s milk and are marketed as suitable for those with a dairy intolerance. Nutritionally, the milks are very similar.
- Lactose-free: this category includes all cow’s milk-based products from which lactose has been removed, including milk, yogurt, cheese etc.
- Others: egg-free foods and their derivatives. Egg allergy is not just to hen’s eggs, it can include eggs from duck, geese etc. With the exception of nuts and peanuts, the other common allergens can more easily be avoided; hence foods are not specifically made to be ‘fish-free’ or ‘shellfish-free’, for example. Allergy to peanuts is separate from allergy to tree nuts, although some people can be allergic to both.