The McVegan is a soy-based patty, sandwiched in a bun and topped with salad, tomatoes, pickles and vegan McFeast sauce. However, the new product will only be available in Tampere, Finland, from the 4th of October to the 21st of November. Though, given the positive reaction on social-media, if the trial goes well the product may be rolled out further.
The launch, while limited, can be seen as part of a growing trend for food and drink producers and retailers to test the waters with vegetarian and vegan products. Pizza Hut is trialling a vegan cheese pizza from the 11th of October to the 26th of November, though this too is limited – being available at only five branches in the UK. Ben and Jerry’s has made a more permanent addition to its roster, launching three new flavors of vegan ice-cream; chocolate fudge brownie, chunky monkey, and peanut butter and cookies. These are the first dairy-free and fair-trade certified ice-creams to reach UK supermarkets. In the beverage market, Baileys has brought out a vegan-friendly almond milk liquor.
It seems producers and retailers are beginning to recognise the fast growing market for meat and dairy-free products. Research has shown that over half a million vegans reside in Britain, nearly three and a half times as many as estimated in 2006, with the number of vegetarians at 2% of the population. Vegans live predominantly in urban areas and tend to be younger, with close to half aged 15 to 34. This signals an active and growing group of potential customers ready for producers to tap in to.
The market for alternative-diet products extends far beyond vegetarians and vegans, however. Nearly four in ten Britons have bought vegetarian or meat-free food, while one in five has bought free-from. Flexitarianism, where consumers cut down there meat consumption rather than giving it up completely, is thus likely to be an increasingly important food trend in 2017. The movement has previously received support from celebrities like Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver and has gained significant traction on social-media this year. Given these changes in dietary habits, it is unsurprising that producers are starting to invest in the market. It is likely that the McVegan signals more development to come in the near future.