Meat dishes remain a firm favourite in the out-of-home market

Thursday, 30 March 2023

Spend on meat free meals in the out of home market totalled £3.7bn in the year ending 22 January 2023 (Kantar). However, meat free meals still account for a relatively small proportion of spend in the out of home market, at 15.1%, highlighting how important meat, fish and poultry (MFP) is for driving value out of home.
Note: ‘Meat free’ includes meals that are vegetarian (e.g. egg, cheese) and plant-based (e.g. bean, meat alternative)

The £3.7bn spent on meat free represents an increase of 23.1% year-on-year, slightly ahead of spend growth for MFP, at 17.3%. Penetration (the proportion of individuals consuming these meals) had previously been the key driver of growth for meat free, however this has now seen a plateau, with price driving growth, predominantly linked to inflation.

The proportion of households buying into meat free in the past year was 70.6% (52 w/e 22 Jan 2023). It’s key to remember that these meat-free meals incorporate dishes that just don’t include meat, but are still everyday meals (such as cheese sandwiches). Despite this, the penetration for MFP is still much higher, at 90.6%.

When it comes to the top dishes consumed, most are still MFP-driven, with 97% of burgers being meat/poultry based. Nearly nine in ten Asian-cuisine meals include MFP, while 80% of Indian-cuisine meals had MFP. In addition, repeat rates for meat-free are much lower, at 40%, than the 96% seen for MFP. This highlights how consumers find MFP to be a reliable option when out of home.

Plant-based dishes at a price premium

Amidst the cost-of-living backdrop, consumers will inevitably look for ways to save money. Vegetarian meals are competitively priced, but plant-based dishes do come at a premium to pork, beef and chicken.

Infographic showing dish spend by protein

Therefore, the main area of risk for the meat category, in the out of home market, isn’t meat alternatives, but rather dishes that are vegetarian by nature, such as cheese sandwiches and meat-free pizzas.

No seasonal gain for meat free

Health continues to be a key driver of Veganuary participation, and meat reduction overall. However, there isn’t a January increase in meat free meals, instead there are signs people choose to focus their Veganuary efforts in-home.

Coffee shops fuel meat free dish growth

Once of the key differences between MFP and meat free meals in the out of home market is where they are consumed or bought. MFP meals are more likely to be bought in quick service restaurants, while coffee shops are an area where meat free takes a bigger share, linked to the role of vegetarian sandwiches.

Chart showing channel share of OOH market

As a consequence, within meat free, coffee shops and cafes have gained at the lunch occasion. However, people are still more likely to consume MFP for their main meal, which is typically a more expensive, bigger occasion. For MFP to maintain its importance in the OOH market, opportunities lie in further menu innovation.

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