There’s no denying the plant-based category has truly blossomed over the past few years; UK shoppers’ growing love for plant-based options has seen the category’s value surge to £531 million1. In fact, in the last two years alone, the number of plant-based shoppers has grown by 6.5%, putting the category firmly in the mainstream. This growth offers retailers unparalleled opportunities to capitalise on new products and ranges, writes Conor Lowry, Category Controller at Pilgrim’s Food Masters.

The increased availability of plant-based versions of family favourites, such as sausages and burgers, has played a big part in the increased popularity of plant-based products. But now these products are seen as standard, what is next for the plant-based category?

Retailers will have noticed that food-to-go is seeing a massive resurgence after the pandemic in conjunction with an ongoing boom in snacking at home. There are hundreds of products that cater to the snacking occasion, yet plant-based alternatives are still surprisingly lacking. The category is beginning to take off and consumers are buying into it: plant-based snacking has seen an incredible growth of 20% over the past two years and is now worth more than £30 million2. In fact, since 2020, plant-based snacking growth is outpacing the total plant-based category’s growth (6.5%)3.

We are predicting the plant-based snacking category to be valued at £42 million by 20254 – a growth of 40% worth £12 million. We are seeing the demand for plant-based snacking well and truly exists, not least because consumers are looking for more mindful snack options that keep them satisfied for longer.

It is through ensuring availability of product, considered innovation that listens to consumer demands, development of exciting new flavours and formats, as well as brands using their established credentials, that we will see plant-based snacking reach its full potential.

Creating new moments for plant-based

As a category, snacking is extremely broad. Retailers will be well aware of the overwhelming number of format options in both ambient and chilled snacks, and this range offers huge scope for development in the plant-based snacking space.

Compared to classic meat snacks that are available in a variety of formats, flavours and proteins, the plant-based snack options have historically been largely homogenous since inception. But this is changing. Brands are entering the plant-based snacking space at a rapidly increasing rate as there’s a clear opportunity to surprise and delight shoppers.

Prepping for the ongoing growth of plant-based snacking means diversifying in-store fixtures to stay relevant and fresh with a varied range of formats that caters to all snacking occasions and needs. Grazing options and multipacks are just some formats retailers can stock to tap into consumer demands, offering variety and ease. We’ve built this thinking into our long-term growth plans as we look to lead the plant-based snacking revolution.

It is not only what’s inside in-store fixtures, but the availability of these fixtures have a major role to play in the success of plant-based snacking too. We know that if plant-based options are made available in the right places in stores, and if they are front and centre for shoppers or placed alongside other snacks and meal deals, then shoppers will come.

Opportunity for NPD

Flexitarian shoppers are increasing in numbers as we predict penetration for plant-based to increase past the 20.3% at which it currently stands. There’s a real opportunity to tap into this momentum and build a dedicated plant-based snacking audience.

But for plant-based snacking to grow, sustained investment into new products is needed to create excitement that can measure up to their meaty counterparts. Not only this, but new products need to be developed with consumer preferences in mind.

There are several reasons consumers seek out plant-based alternatives, such as health, a craving for different protein options and new flavours, or wanting to reduce their meat consumption. One in five shoppers are seeking out protein-packed, nutrient-rich options that offer fully satisfying snacks that makes them feel good5. It’s a tall order but to make snacking the next big thing in plant-based, it’s essential that innovations deliver on these needs.

That’s why our initial launch of Fridge Raiders Meat-Free Tasty Bites included the iconic Slow-Roasted Flavour and consumer-favourite Katsu to help retailers tap into existing known and well-loved flavours. Not only are we delivering on the taste front, but the fava bean protein also offers a hunger-busting snack that rivals our Chicken Bites, keeping consumers fuller for longer.

And because we delivered on those key consumer concerns, Fridge Raider Meat-Free Tasty Bites are now the number one SKU for category incrementality in chilled on-the-go snacking6. With 81% incrementality for total front of store snacking, it’s hard to deny plant-based options’ ability to entice and retain shoppers.

Gateway to new shoppers

For a consumer nervous about making the plant-based switch, snacking is a lot less commitment time and money-wise. With easy to grab bags and consumer favourite flavours, shoppers looking to dip their toe into plant-based waters can do so with minimal fuss with snacks, rather than risk a full plant-based meal that doesn’t go down well.

As a brand recognised for its superior taste and quality when it comes to the meat snacking category, we are in a prime position to put Fridge Raiders’ knowledge and expertise to the test by offering curious customers a plant-based option of our most iconic bites. Several brands were already offering plant-based options, but we knew we could use our existing credentials to draw in any wary plant-based snackers – 61% of branded snacking growth being driven by brands that offer both meat and meat-free options. Our classic Chicken Bites are renowned for both flavour and protein, so we had to ensure that our Meat-Free Tasty Bites delivered on these pillars of the brand.

Plant-based as an entire category has become more mainstream than ever and snacking offers the chance for retailers to further tap into this booming interest. With proteins, formats and flavours constantly evolving, there’s never been a better time to get involved with the plant-based occasion – snacking has become an incredibly important part of consumers day-to-day activity. Changing consumer habits as a result of the pandemic and lockdowns has put snacking in the spotlight, with many shoppers looking to plant-based snack options as a source of nourishment and satisfaction. Offering variety and choice is key to succeeding with plant-based fixtures and snacking is the next big thing to propel the category further into the future.



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