Lifestyle changes, ethical choices and environmental concerns have driven a huge demand for plant and vegan based products in the UK over the last two years. According to Mintel, in January of this year, the UK overtook Germany as the leading country for development of vegan food products. One in six (16%) food products launched in the UK in 2018 had a vegan/no animal ingredients claim, doubling from just 8% in 2015. Overall, one in ten (9%) food products launched in Europe in 2018 had a vegan/no animal ingredients claim, doubling from 5% in 2015. One in three (34%) British meat eaters reduced their meat consumption in the six months to July 2018 following a flexitarian approach, up from 28% who had done so in 2017.
To address the challenges associated with developing vegan products, the AFTP held a one-day workshop on September 12th 2019 at the University of Nottingham's Sutton Bonington campus and heard from leading experts and welcomed around 50 colleagues from industry. Below are a brief introduction to the speakers and a video summarising the challenges and questions this growing market raises for the Agrifood industry.
Challenges of developing plant based products – Ingredients and sensory properties to be replicated from plant based ingredients and some of the science behind these
Tiia Morsky is an Ingredient Research Team Leader in the Production and Processing Department at Campden BRI. Her main responsibilities include managing and proposing research for clients. She also works on a number of projects in conjunction with government funding body Innovate UK. Tiia is responsible for a variety of projects within the ingredient sector. She specialises in ingredient properties and processes of pulses and other plant proteins. Tiia graduated from the University of Helsinki with an MSc in Food Science and is currently completing her PhD alongside her day job. Her thesis focuses on the anti-fungal properties of the faba bean in wheat bread.
Understanding your marketplace: Consumer insights into plant based consumers and what they are looking for in a product.
A market research professional who specialises in the food and agriculture sector, Jan is also a partner in the family farm business and so brings a unique perspective to any work she undertakes on behalf of clients. Jan has been actively involved in researching consumer trends in plant based diets and how this can impact food production. She will share some of these trends and ideas on how the industry should respond.
England Marketing has been undertaking market research in the food sector for 20 years. The company has tracked consumer trends on behalf of a variety of organisations during this time, and, in doing so, has noticed a big shift to plant-based diets in recent years. England Marketing will share some of its market insights, and suggest ways in which the agri-food sector in the UK could capitalise on these trends but also demonstrate that reducetarians perhaps represent a bigger opportunity (more people) and how important it is to understand you market and know how to reach customers.
Does your product measure up? - Using sensory techniques to compare plant based and animal based products.
As a business engagement scientist Marit Nijman is responsible for organising and conducting commercial research projects at the Sensory Science Centre at Sutton Bonington Campus. The Sensory Science Centre is based in the Division of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics and has state of the art sensory facilities, designed to ISO Standards (ISO8589:1988). The focus of the Sensory Science Centre is on using sensory science and instrumental techniques to understand how we perceive and respond to the sensory characteristics of products. Marit recently completed her PhD thesis on the role of context when measuring consumers’ emotional responses to sensory properties, which she also conducted at the University of Nottingham.
Packaging your product – Green alternatives to petrochemical (plastic) based packaging. Examples of reducing packaging waste.
Eric Duncan is Head of Food Science for Coveris Flexibles, leading and managing projects for packaging functional in improving shelf life performance, reducing food waste, reducing the environmental impact of packaging, and improving consumer convenience, primarily in the fresh & chilled foods sector. An improved shelf life / reduced food waste packaging solution in which Eric was Coveris co-lead, won Flexible Pack of the Year at the 2018 UK Packaging Awards. Eric previously held the role of Applications Development Manager for Amcor Flexibles Europe, and Senior Food Technologist / Microbiologist for Weis Markets, Inc., a large regional US supermarket retail multiple. Eric is co-inventor on GB and US patents for novel non-sulphite antimicrobial fresh-produce wash treatments and packaging for steam cooking of fresh vegetables, and has served as guest lecturer on the University of Reading’s Fresh Produce Postharvest Quality Management short course. Eric holds a BSc in food science and an MSc in postharvest produce science, from The Pennsylvania State University.
Raw Materials – Ethical and organic sourcing of ingredients e.g. palm oil, cocoa, walking the talk - does it matter?
Mark Driscoll is Founder and Director of Tasting the Future, a not for profit sustainable food systems consultancy. He is a passionate advocate for the need for food systems change. He has 25 years experience of working with businesses, governments and civil society organisations on solutions that address some of the key social and environmental challenges confronting our global food system. He has developed and led large sustainable food programmes with organisations including WWF and Forum for the Future, focussing on policy and practice at the intersection of health, nutrition and sustainability. Mark graduated from Wye College (London University) with a degree in agriculture and environmental science. He sits on a number of advisory boards for business, government and non-profit organisations. He also writes and blogs extensively on issues and trends impacting on the food system. When not working, Mark likes to reconnect is head, hands and heart with the soil, through his passion for growing his own vegetables!
Nutritional concerns – getting the balance right in a vegan diet - How can I obtain sufficient key nutrients and vitamins? Is vegan junk food good for you?
Barbara runs her own consultancy business Alo Solutions Ltd driving and delivering food safety in food supply chains and improving nutritional quality of recipes and menus in the foodservice sector.
With a passion for educating people about food and nutrition, Barbara is a director of the Oxford Farming Conference, the leading international conference held in the UK for farming and agribusiness. She also sits on committees for both the Institute of Food Science and Technology and The Nutrition Society’s Training Academy.
Prior to consultancy Barbara worked in the Ugandan agri-business sector for three years after graduation and then spent fourteen years in the chilled foods sector in the UK and France. Her roles covered food procurement, technical innovation and implementation of food safety systems as a Technical Manager with Bakkavor, an international food manufacturer. She has a BSc (Hons) in Food Technology 1995, MSc Post Harvest Technology 1996, MSc Human Nutrition 2014 and is a registered nutritionist with the Association for Nutrition.
In 2017, Barbara was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and travelled on Global Focus programme to Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Israel, UK and USA to study international food and farming systems. Her Nuffield Farming project on ‘Vegetable Production for Specific Nutritional Need’ looked at international food policies and private initiatives to promote consumption of vegetables which benefit our health. She worked with academia and the health sector developing a practical solution for people on low potassium diets to access prepared vegetable products.
AgriFood Training Partnership
The University of Reading
PO Box 226, Whiteknights
Reading RG6 6AP