A rise in the number of regular â€œlunchtimeâ€ vegan shoppers is fuelling sales of plant-based sandwiches and wraps, according to supermarkets.
In a further sign that plant-based food is now firmly mainstream, retailers have reported rocketing sales of vegan takeaway foods, with ingredients such as hummus gaining popularity.
There has been a surge in the number of plant-based foods on offer in the UK, and this year a record 400,000-plus people worldwide signed up to the Veganuary campaign.
Since 2014, it has asked people to pledge to eat a vegan diet for the month of January. It said the latest figure compares with 250,000 participants in 2019 and 170,000 in 2018. In the UK, 130,000 people signed up compared with 100,000 last year.
Manufacturers, supermarkets, restaurants and pub chains are increasingly tapping into not only the burgeoning vegan market but the much larger group of â€œflexitariansâ€, who enjoy meat but want to reduce their meat consumption.
Veganuary led to huge uplift for supermarkets, boosting sales of meat substitutes such as soya mince and vegetarian burgers by 14% and lentils by 6%, according to the latest figures from grocery market analysts Kantar.
Elsewhere in the chiller cabinets, at Tesco sales of vegan sandwiches soared by nearly 75% compared with the previous Veganuary, with the most popular a falafel and hummus wrap.
Tesco food-to-goâ€™s buying manager, Cate May, said: â€œThanks to some great recent quality innovation in vegan wraps and sandwiches we are now seeing the emergence of a dedicated lunchtime plant-based shopper.
â€œUntil now most of the noise for vegan food â€“ understandably â€“ has been for meat-free alternatives to classics like burgers, sausages and steaks. However the rise of veganism and flexitarian diets will continue to have a major impact on the takeaway lunchtime market and choices available.â€
Sainsburyâ€™s said sales of its vegan sandwiches are up 35% year on year compared with last January â€“ and its On the Go vegan range by 23% in the same timeframe. At Waitrose, sales within its vegan and vegetarian range â€“ including wraps, salads and snacks â€“ were up by nearly 20% compared with last year.
Pret a Manger launched its first vegan croissant in early January and is selling twice as many a day as the non-vegan jam croissant. A company spokesperson said: â€œIn January, our vegan classics â€¦ saw record sales, increasing by 17% year on year. In particular, customers have switched to our vegan BLT, the VLT, made with roasted shiitake mushroom â€œrashersâ€, with sales up by 25%.â€
Marks & Spencer said its vegan chicken kievs had sold at a rate of four every minute since going on sale in early January, while its overall fruit and veg sales are up by almost 10% year on year, with mushrooms, a popular meat substitute, up 25%.