Let’s start at the beginning – what actually is a flexitarian – have you heard this term before? I’ll be honest it is new to me too, so lets look at what it means…
It is a relatively new term which is apparently growing fast, relating to consumers consciously selecting to eat less meat without actually committing to vegetarianism or veganism. Apparently some people also call it ‘casual vegetarianism’ or ‘semi vegetarian diet (SVD)’, the exact definition is open to interpretation by the individual. Apparently some flexitarians are only occasional meat eaters, some aim to be meat free a certain number of days per week, others just avoid red meats or processed meats. I have also discovered that the reasons why people select a flexitarian diet are varied, with health reasons, weight loss, ethical and environmental factors all in the mix.
If you are interested in the stats:
• 14% of UK consumers claim to be flexitarian which is more than pescatarians, vegans and vegetarians combined. (source: YouGov)
• 76% of consumers said that ethics, environmental factors and social responsibility impacted on their food choice (Global Data)
So why am I telling you all this and what impact does it have on our industry and making ice cream or gelato? Well there is a reason because it seems that flexitarians are selecting vegan food choices, so the vegan market is rapidly growing despite the number of vegans still being a relatively small number. Not only that, but flexitarians are much more conscious about all the foods they eat so you may find that more people are asking you about your ingredients and if you have a vegan option in your cabinet.
However, there is no need to panic, for those of you not already making a vegan option it is not as daunting as it might at first seem. Some products such as sorbets are of course naturally vegan, but not all vegans want a sorbet. Vegans and flexitarians also like to experience that warm mouth feel, smooth texture and firm structure associated with milk/cream based gelato or ice cream. Obviously we need to create that without the milk based products by substituting those ingredients with vegetable fats and soy proteins.
This article is not about telling you how to make vegan ice cream or gelato. It is about raising awareness that the demand for vegan is looking likely to increase, so to be inclusive to your customers it is probably a good plan to have at least one vegan option in your cabinet and amongst your cone selection. After all don’t you think that ice cream should be for everyone?
What’s more flexitarians and vegans both being very conscious about what they consume also tend to be active on social media, sharing their findings with friends and followers. So my recommendation is to embrace this community, because if you do it well you may find your brand also gets a mention or two on social media and amongst friends, and we should never under estimate the power of ‘word of mouth’.
See you next time for the latest scoop…
Antonelli’s National Technical Manager Jonny Ireland write’s a regular column in the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…
See how this article looked in the June 2019 edition.