Growing interest in the ‘flexitarian’ diet – where meat eaters have more meat-free meals – is driving demand for plant-based products in the nation’s supermarkets according to Made With Plants.
The company quotes Woolworths data showing 32-per-cent year-on-year growth in demand for plant-based alternatives which is prompting the chain to devote more chiller and shelf space for such products, including nine new Made With Plants SKUs launching this week.
Cale Drouin, an Australian restaurateur and plant-based food creator who co-founded Made With Plants, says Woolworths has become a market leader in providing plant-based food options.
“The fact that Australia’s major grocery retailer has embraced the vegan category says something fundamental is shifting in our food choices as a nation,” Drouin said. “We’re definitely seeing a trend towards the ‘flexitarian’ diet, where people swap traditional meat and dairy for plant-based alternatives a few times each week. The flexitarian diet is so appealing because it’s flexible – you don’t have to commit to a specific regime or sacrifice your favourite foods in order to enjoy a greater variety of plant-based meals.”
Made With Plants’ products include Ready Meals, with new varieties, such as microwaveable Bangers and Mash, Beef and Black Bean, and Thai Green Chicken Curry; Tofu lines sold in Sesame and Garlic, Sweet Chilli, and Teriyaki flavours; and Sauces, including Burger sauce, Ranch sauce, and Mayo.
The entire Made With Plants range is vegan friendly, and uses versatile plant-based proteins made from natural ingredients, including seitan from wheat, or tofu from soybeans.
Drouin says the company’s current best-sellers include Made With Plants Bacon, Mince, Meat Loaf and dairy-free Cream Cheese.
Ready meals are proving a category driver as consumer interest in plant-based meats grows, the category up by 20 per cent year on year, according to Woolworths’ data.
“More of our customers are becoming interested in vegan options, and we’ve expanded our plant- based range in recent years to meet that demand and provide greater choice,” said Woolworths plant-based category manager, Mauro Pisani.
Drouin cites a report by independent organisation Food Frontier, showing one in three Australians are consciously limiting their meat consumption, while the number of people self-identifying as ‘flexitarians’ has grown by 20 per cent. An additional 10 per cent of Australians are now entirely meat free, maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet.
“Consumers are more conscious today, and they’re looking for simple solutions to the issues they perceive in their world – for many people, making more mindful food choices is an easy way to contribute,” Drouin said.
“Australia is already the third fastest-growing vegan market in the world, and I envisage a future where there is a plant-based alternative for every product currently available at your local grocery store.”