Empowering the Freelance Economy

Veganomics: the numbers and trends behind the vegan retail boom

Aquaman star Jason Momoa poses with the limited-edition vegan trainers/ sneakers he has designed in collaboration with climbing brand So iLL and BLOOM [Photo Credit: Instagram; Vegan Food and Living].
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Aquaman star Jason Momoa has launched two limited-edition vegan trainers (sneakers) made from algae as part of his collaboration with climbing brand So iLL and algae recycling specialist BLOOM. 

This is yet another vegan product making headlines and backed up by a whopping 566 new vegan retail products launched in January alone, according to the Vegan Society. Why are vegan products showing signs of staying power long after Veganuary? The Freelance Informer reports

When you catch up with an old friend and find out they have turned their back on their meat-loving days and have gone vegan, the first question that usually comes to mind is: why?

A lifestyle change, they say… I wanted to cut down on our weekly meat bill. I wanted to feel healthier... Can’t you see how much weight I’ve lost?

Personal drivers are clearly there. But what about market drivers? Is this just a matter of following the crowd? Keeping up with the trendy Jones’? Or is there something deeper here?

According to a 2020 study by MarketsandMarkets™, the plant-based meat market will be worth a whopping $8.3 billion by the year 2025. 

The meat-free and plant-based dairy categories have doubled in size over the past five years and are now worth just under £600m each.

It would seem that friend of yours isn’t alone according to the hard numbers. The majority (97%) of those that decided to turn vegan for January this year, said they were inspired by someone else to take on the month-long challenge.

The business of vegan products is also a clear sign of vegan retail’s staying power from food to fashion to cosmetics. There was a 128% surge in new trademarks registered for vegan food in the UK in 2019, with 107 trademarks registered in 2019, up from just 47 in 2018 – with multinational businesses competing to file them, according to law firm EMW.

The race to tap into the vegan market has expanded so much that it is available in the mass market fast-food sector. KFC, for example, sold one million vegan burgers during their first month of sales in January 2020 and Greggs’ vegan sausage roll was a social media hit upon launch.

How do vegan startups prove their credentials?

The Vegan Trademark has been helping companies and customers identify that a product is suitable for vegans since 1990. The Vegan Trademark is on over 48,000 products worldwide, including cosmetics, clothing, food, drink, household items, and many more.

The increased demand across the UK for vegan produce and prepared meals has helped startup companies, such as Chef Akila, which has undoubtedly seen sales growth due to their vegan Indian meals range, as previously reported by The Freelance Informer.

Have a vegan business success story you would like us to profile? Get in touch at editor@freelanceinformer.com

If you are hoping to expand into the vegan business, here are some stats published by Vegan Society to inspire you.

Impressive vegan business stats (Vegan Society)

  • In 2019, nearly one in four products launched in the UK carried a vegan claim. In 2018, this figure was one in six. Sources: [1][2]
  • Fresh meat sales fell by £328m throughout 2016, a 7.3% decline (beef sales down £72m, pork lost £62m, sausages £51m, poultry £49m and lamb £21m). Cheese went down by £70m (2.8%). Free-from foods rose by £123m, with Alpro adding another £23m. Source
  • A staggering 92% of plant-based meals consumed in the UK in 2018 were eaten by non-vegans. Source 
  • Scotland: Sales of plant milk hit £367 million in the UK in 2017 and a farming expert called this an opportunity for Scotland to use its wonderful oats and pure water to produce oat milk. Source
  • Europe: It is predicted that meat and dairy alternatives will be worth €7.5bn in Europe (including the UK) in 2025, up from €4.4bn in 2019. Source

Supermarkets building up vegan ranges

  • 566 new vegan products launching into retail for Veganuary 2021. Source 
  • In January 2021, Asda supermarket trialled a fully vegan butchers counter at its Watford store with a range of plant-based meat products on offer. Source
  • In 2020, 16% of ready meals in the UK were plant-based, rising from just 3% in 2018. Source 
  • The line of 20 Wicked Kitchen vegan meals was rolled out at 600 Tesco stores at the start of 2018 and sold more than 2.5 million units in the first 20-week period ending in May 2018 — more than double the company’s sales projections. Source
  • In June 2018, Waitrose launched dedicated vegan sections in more than 130 stores after increasing its vegan and vegetarian product range by 60%. Source
  • Online grocer Ocado enjoyed a staggering 1,678% increase in sales within its ‘vegan’ category between 2015 and 2016. In 2020, nearly 30% of their ready meals were plant-based. Sources: [1][2]
  • Between 2018 and 2020, Aldi, Morrisons and Asda have more than doubled their plant-based and vegetarian ready-meals offer as a proportion of their range. Source 
  • Demand for vegan and vegetarian ready meals and snacks at Tesco grew by 40% from 2016 to 2017. Source
  • Sainsbury’s sales of its vegan cheeses surpassed the company’s predictions by 300%. Sources: [1][2]
  • Sainsbury’s saw a 24% increase in customers searching for vegan products online and a 65% increase in sales of plant-based products year-on-year. Source
  • Scotland: Demand for vegan haggis at Tesco in Scotland skyrocketed by 120% in 2018. Source


  • 259 new vegan menus were added to chain restaurants for Veganuary 2021. Source 
  • Between January 2020 and 2021, Deliveroo revealed its vegan takeaway orders shot up by 163% percent. Source 
  • Veggie Pret was turning 70% profits increase within its first two weeks of operation, despite predictions that they would drop by up to 30%. Source
  • In March 2021,Burger King UK CEO Alasdair Murdoch announced the fast-food chain plans to incorporate its menu with at least 50% plant-based options by 2031. Source

Hospitality and retail

  • In 2020 The Tofoo Co. Ltd’s turnover was £14.7 million, an 89% year-on-year increase and a significant contrast to its first year of trading in 2016 which was just £600,000.
  • There was a 39% increase in searches for ‘vegan fashion’ and ‘vegan clothes’ from 2017 to 2018. Source: Hitwise UK survey
  • Adverts for vegan job roles increased by 123% in 2018. Source
  • Scotland: There were over 100 vegan businesses in Scotland in 2019, up from just a handful in 2012-13. Source
  • Waterstones have over 10,000 book titles with the word ‘vegan’ in them available for sale (as of November 2020) compared to 944 in August 2018. Source
  • The vegan leather market is set to take over the animal leather market by 2025, by this time it is set to be worth nearly $90 billion. Sources: [1][2]
1 Comment
  1. Andy says

    I’ll be entering my 41st vegan year later on in 2021 …. ’bout time people caught up.

    Better for you, our environment and obviously non humans too.

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