TREND WATCH: Plant power from Speciality Food

By | April 5, 2018

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Plant power from Speciality Food

An interesting article, it would appear that the a lot of people are moving towards being vegetarians for a number of reasons, health, slaughtering animals, fitness, the list is nearly endless. Having been taken round a large Abattoir some years ago I was appalled at the cries of the animals about to be slaughtered, it made me think. I am not a vegetarian, but I do not eat as much red meat and prefer fish, the sad thing is, if we stop eating red meat the animals will vanish from our farms, like shire horses and become a novelty. 

Once it was mums making us eat our greens, now it’s the food industry, says Sally-Jayne Wright. They’re sneaking veg into everything from ice cream to water

VEG WATER! REALLY?
At the lunch! show we came across JF Rabbit’s range of waters ‘infused with the power of vegetables’. Their Cucumber, Ginger & Lime and Carrot & Orange Blossom waters contain under 10 calories a bottle and all your daily vitamin C and zinc requirements.

Frill Refreshing Green frozen smoothie looks like mint ice cream and contains spinach, avocado, basil, celery, pineapple, mango and lemon. Improbable as it sounds, it tastes good: £4.99 for 500ml at selected Waitrose branches, Whole Foods Market stores and online at Ocado. You can also use this ice cream alternative as a base for veg smoothies.

At The Book Club, a trendy bar in London’s Shoreditch, you can even consume veg in your cocktail. Order a beetroot espresso martini or peach and fennel spritz.

DOES THIS MEAN THE END OF STEAKS, SAUSAGES AND PORK PIES?
No, but you’d better be prepared for sweet potato steaks, veggie sausages and wild mushroom and asparagus pie filling. Mintel’s Meat-Free Foods UK Market Report, August 2017, found over a quarter (28%) of meat-eating Brits had reduced or limited meat consumption in the previous six months (to March 2017).

Many see eating too much meat as a major driver of climate change, and younger people and women – particularly city-dwellers – are reducing the amount they eat or cutting it out. Reducers are known as flexitarians.

ARE YOU SURE THIS ISN’T JUST A TRENDY, CELEBRITY-LED, LONDON THING?
Quite sure. You don’t associate the nationwide pub chain, Wetherspoon, with Quorn sausages and quinoa salads but both are available. The letters page of their magazine abounds with pleas from vegans wanting more options. Regulars can already choose a five-bean chilli, veg lasagne, and sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry.

Marks & Spencer has a new Veggie range which includes edamame bean burgers, topped sweet potato steaks, veggie sausages and veggie mince.

Big brands are using plants as a selling point. The blurb on Unilever’s Flora Buttery spread reads: ‘powered by plants’, highlighting linseed and rapeseed oil as healthy ingredients.

ANY OTHER EVIDENCE THE FUTURE IS GREEN?
‘fraid so. The sandwich chain Pret a Manger opened two more veggie branches in London last year following the 2016 success of the first-ever Veggie Pret in Soho. Food campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who built his reputation writing books about humanely reared meat and nose-to-tail eating, is now more likely to prepare Jerusalem artichoke gratin than jellied tongue and tail. His second veg-based cookbook River Cottage Much More Veg appeared in September. The Hairy Bikers also jumped on the parsnip and potato bandwagon with Hairy Dieters Go Veggie (Hairy Bikers).

WHAT DO YOU PUT THIS TREND DOWN TO?
Many factors including more adventurous palates; vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free eating; concerns about climate change; and alarm about intensive meat production. The biggest reason, however, is health.

It began with the government’s five-fruit-and-veg-a-day campaign. Most of us heard only the fruit bit, and bought fruit smoothies, juices and punnets of raspberries to gobble at our desks. But then we worried we were consuming too much fruit sugar, hence the rise of veg smoothies, spiralizers and NutriBullet blenders. On social media, bloggers loved to make us ‘guess the healthy ingredient’ as they baked beetroot, cauliflower, courgette, carrot, sweet potato and avocado into pizzas, cakes and desserts.

With the coming of the sugar tax, we learnt how much refined sugar ‘healthy’ fruit yoghurts contained. So Arla launched the first branded fruitand- veg yoghurts for kids. Waitrose followed with such combinations as Apple, Carrot, Beetroot & Ginger and Pineapple, Butternut Squash & Turmeric.

WHERE IS THE VEGGIE TREND MOST SUCCESSFUL?
We’ve mentioned it before and we still love Cavi-art – a Danish faux caviar made of seaweed, ideal for vegan canapes and garnishes. We also love ChicP’s carrot hummus, Pelagonia’s Malidzano aubergine spread and their roasted pepper spread, Aivar. We like Rubies in the Rubble’s cucumber-based London Piccalilli.

SHOULD I STOCK UP ON VEGGIE PRODUCTS BIG-TIME?
The usual rules apply. Know your customers. The Mintel survey suggested younger generations are the most likely to be vegetarians with one in five (19%) Brits under 25 saying he, or more likely, she, doesn’t eat red meat or poultry.

If you have a café or restaurant, make veggie options imaginative. Flexitarians get bored with goats cheese tartlets and butternut squash risottos. How about vegetable moussaka with tofu topping, curried sweetcorn fritters, or spiced potato-filled rice pancakes (marsala dosa)?

This is a good time to stock award-winning meat alternatives such as MacSween or Ramsay veggie haggis and Cauldron’s Lincolnshire sausages. But don’t over-buy anything too weird if your customers are older, more traditional omnivores.

WILL THIS TREND LAST?
We don’t see the whole country going vegetarian or vegan; we do see more families sharing a veg-based meal once or twice a week, instead of feeding the family vegetarian separately. We predict meat-free products and ready meals will improve and vegetable sales soar. Our mums were right.

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