Flexitarians bring new challenges to the food industry

New challenges for food producers with flexitarians' diet.
Food & Pharma
8 October 2018

Flexitarism has already had a notable impact on UK food producers and retailers. Whilst under 4% of the UK population are Vegetarian there has been considerable growth in the number of consumers looking to reduce their meat consumption; with sustainability often being cited as a key reason for changing habits. The indications are this shift in consumer habits is one that will continue to grow in the coming years.

Two of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains – Waitrose and Iceland – launched dedicated vegan sections to keep up with the customers’ changing lifestyle. Waitrose increased its vegetarian product range by 60% and launched vegan sections in no less than 130 stores. Likewise, Iceland is also rapidly expanding its vegan range, after finding that not just young millennials but also over-50s are keen on meat-free products. Even fast food chains are adapting as Pizza Hut recently joined Pizza Express and Zizzi in offering vegan pizzas.


Based on the input they assembled from a survey, J. Walter Thompson Intelligence explains:

"74% of the UK and US millennials would adopt new dietary habits in order to reduce their impact on the planet, and 70% are willing to pay more money for products that reuse and recycle materials. People are also increasingly concerned about their ecological footprint and look for more responsible, healthier, safer and tastier food."

People want meat alternative products with clear labels showing recognisable vegetable-based ingredients. In addition, they look for products that convincingly mimic meat and have an above average nutritional value. However, ease of use is equally important: convenient, ready-to-heat products are particularly popular.

Fact is, this trend brings some important new challenges to the food industry:

- Deliver a superior quality, texture and taste experience. Flexitarians expect their non-meat produces to mimic the texture of meat.
- Ensure sustainable food production. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their food consumption. In addition, food production will have to grow no less than 60% by 2050 to meet worldwide demand.
- To respond quickly and production requirements with efficient agility.

This in itself might sound like good news for the food industry, but some serious efforts will nevertheless be necessary.

Rise to the new food challenge?

Air Liquide provides different solutions to make sure food products have a superior quality texture and offer satisfying taste experiences. For example cryogenic freezing, chilling and temperature control can enable appealing product texture and minimise product dehydration.

At the same time, we commit to food safety and hygiene and help the industry to gain commercial and operational agility. One of our key solutions is ‘MAP’ (Modified Atmosphere Packaging), as it successfully addresses several relevant issues.

“Modified Atmosphere Packaging significantly extends the shelf-life of food by using specific ALIGAL™ gas mixtures which mimic the earth’s atmosphere”, says Iain Shipley, Food & Beverage Specialist at Air Liquide UK. “These mixtures consist of food-grade CO2, O2 and N2 and allow for a significantly longer shelf life for many vegetarian products, as well as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, cheese, bakery and dairy products. This prevents food spoilage and therefore reduces our ecological footprint.”


Feel free to contact our experts:

Contact our Food Expert - Iain Shipley quoting "Food Industry" in the subject line of the e-mail.