Living on the veg!
With the main greenhouse gas CO2 reaching record levels last year of 417 parts per million, a growing number of consumers are looking for more sustainable options to counteract the environmental impact of the meat industry, whether they’re flexitarians, vegans or meat-eaters
21 July 2021 | 0
As more Irish consumers consider the impact of food they eat on the planet, many have started to embrace plant-based diets. Whether consumers make the switch out of health, animal or environmental concern, the fact remains that having an enticing in-store vegan range has never been more essential.
While Bord Bia estimated that 8% of the Irish population were vegetarian and another 2% vegan in 2018, the appetite for vegan foods is greater than veganism itself. Indeed, Euromonitor’s recent Health and Nutrition Survey found that flexitarians account for 42% of global consumers, while 92% of plant-based meals consumed in the UK in 2018 were eaten by non-vegans.
To meet the demand in a fast-growing market, many food producers have developed exciting plant-based products. In 2019, Mintel Research reported that the term ‘vegan’ was the third fastest growing on-pack claim for food and drink launches over the last five years. Here, we take a closer look at some of the brands driving the latest innovations within this in-demand category.
A perfect cuppa
Did you know, we Irish are the heaviest tea drinkers per capita in the world*, averaging five cups per day, with many people drinking even more. However, the great Irish tea drinker has been left behind in the plant-based revolution, until now. Alpro has launched a total game changer, Alpro MyCuppa, the one and only plant-based product that performs like semi-skimmed milk in tea, meaning one thing, no curdling!
Working hard with tea-lovers and tea-experts alike, Alpro developed MyCuppa specifically for the Irish tea drinker, delivering a cuppa that is 100% plant-based, low in sugars, and made with sustainably sourced soya.
Alpro MyCuppa ticks all the boxes when it comes to colour, texture, and flavour. That tannin tartness consumers find when mixing plant-based with tea is gone and MyCuppa allows everyone to get the perfect colour to their cuppa, while letting the flavour of tea truly shine through, and it’s just creamy enough to let the taste linger for longer.
If that wasn’t enough. Alpro MyCuppa will be available in smaller, perfectly-portioned-for-tea 750ml cartons containing 25 x 30ml serves – or slightly more for those who are a ‘just a drop!’ kind of tea drinker.
Alpro MyCuppa is currently stocked at Tesco, SuperValu and Dunnes Stores, priced at €2.39.
Oat so tasty!
Flahavan’s is one of Ireland’s most trusted family food brands and has been providing consumers with wholesome, natural oat-based products for seven generations. Based in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford, the company prides itself on the simplicity and consistent quality of its product range which comes not only from its unique milling expertise, but also from sourcing the highest quality oats from local farmers based within 60 miles of its mill.
Recognising changing patterns in consumer behaviour around health and the growing trend toward plant-based diets, Flahavan’s is well positioned to cater to the needs of consumers embracing a vegan way of life with its wide range of traditional and organic porridge offerings. Porridge is a simple breakfast solution for vegan consumers – a single-ingredient oat product providing energy, fibre and nutrients to help fuel busy lives.
SMALLER SUBHEAD: New product introductions
Flahavan’s has recently added two new vegan-friendly products to its Granola range – No Added Sugar Raisin, Cashew & Almond and No Added Sugar Strawberry & Almond. High in fibre and providing a source of energy, these new granolas are packed full of real fruit pieces, nuts and seeds as well as Flahavan’s finest Irish oats, toasted to perfection.
The latest addition to Flahavan’s vegan-friendly Irish Oaty Flapjacks range is Chocolate & Hazelnut, combining rich Belgian dark chocolate and roasted hazelnut pieces for a deliciously indulgent taste experience. Made with over 40% wholegrain oats, each flapjack provides 7% of your daily fibre requirement, helping fill the energy gap between meals. Other varieties in the range include Original, Choc Chip, Dark Choc & Orange, Cranberry & Orange and Lemon & Poppyseed.
Launched in August 2020, Flahavan’s range of Oat Drinks includes Barista, Vitamin Rich and Organic varieties. Made with Irish oats, the Flahavan’s Oat Drinks range contains no added sugar and offers a deliciously subtle oaty flavour, which has proven extremely popular among Irish consumers of plant-based drinks.
As consumer demand shifts more toward healthy vegan-friendly breakfast, snacking and drink offerings, Flahavan’s says its product range will continue to evolve and expand to cater to this market’s needs. Flahavan’s is a proud member of Love Irish Food.
Consumer habits are constantly evolving and 2020 saw a continued shift in the grocery industry as more and more people look for meat free alternatives to add to their weekly meal plans. There is a clear trend among Irish consumers who are consuming less meat in their daily routine for a myriad of reasons. Whether that’s for ethical, health or environmental reasons, among others, the chilled meat free category has increased by +29% year-on-year*.
As experts in meat for 200 years, Denny has always been at the forefront of recognizing emerging trends in the industry and re-imagining products to cater for the needs of customers across the country. 2020 saw Denny embrace the opportunity to expand its range with one of the most significant innovation launches for the brand in recent years, the ‘unbelievable’ Meat Free range. The range originally consisted of chilled sausages, burgers and mince, but in 2021 Denny expanded into frozen Sausages and Burgers, as well as launching a Meat Free Pudding and Bacon product also.
The products have been developed with soya protein, coconut oil and the famous Henry Denny signature seasoning ensuring that the range delivers on the great and delicious taste of Denny. Despite being new in the meat free space, Denny is a category leader and the fastest growing meat free brand in Ireland**.
The Denny Meat Free range is available nationwide. Prices range from €2.50 – €3.50 (RRP).
*(Source: Euromonitor ROI – 2019-2020).
**(Source: Dunnhumby ROI data up to 29/10/2020)
Since The Happy Pear’s humble beginnings in 2004, David and Stephen Flynn set out on a mission to inspire people to make their lives better, by eating more veg and having fun and since then the business has greatly expanded.
The Happy Pear business now employs over 70 people and has grown into one of the most vibrant and renowned plant- based businesses on the Irish market; with award-winning products exclusively available in SuperValu and Centra stores nationwide.
The plant-based food phenomenon and Irish business success story now comprises of:
- Two wholefood cafés/food stores and a coffee roastery
- A sprout farm producing wheatgrass, healthy living organic sprouts and microgreens
- A food manufacturing and distribution business
- Over 60 products sold nationwide in SuperValu and Centra Stores
- An online e-learning business with seven health and lifestyle-based courses which have seen over 50,000 participants from over 70 different countries
- An online community of well over 1 million followers
- Five bestselling cookbooks published across Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands.
In 2019, The Happy Pear entered into a partnership with the Musgrave Group. Musgrave and The Happy Pear are expanding and developing an extensive range of new products making plant-based eating more accessible to all. This collaboration has allowed The Happy Pear to continue to spread the good word and do great things with their cafes, cook books and online courses, while still finding time to inspire consumers with wholesome, great tasting food that is centred around healthy eating and sustainability.
Jack up mealtimes!
Jacked-Up has created three tasty vegan products full of flavour that will allow consumers to enjoy nutritious jackfruit in all its glory. These jackfruit products contain nothing but jacked up tasty goodness packed full of nutrition, low in sugar and calories and has the additional benefit of being similar in taste and texture to a recognisable food – pulled pork – making it the ultimate meat replacement.
Jacked-Up was the brainchild of business partners Gursharan Singh and Binu Varghese. Both have roots in India and are involved in the Asian retail and distribution industry with 20 years of experience in Ireland and with a meal production facility of 5,00sq ft with chill and frozen storage operating under Food License.
The full range consists of Jacked-Up Tex Mex, Jacked-Up Indian Curry and Jacked-Up Pulled BBQ options.
The Jacked-Up range is made in Ireland and comes in 300g portion for two, vegan approved with an RRP €3.99.
For sales queries, contact Binu at +353 1 802 4888.
Enjoy a plant-based break
After much anticipation, Nestlé’s new vegan KitKat arrived in SuperValu and Centra stores nationwide last month.
KitKat V features smooth chocolate blended with a rice-based alternative to milk that balances the crisp wafer. The bar was developed by chocolatiers and food scientists in Nestlé’s Research and Development Centre in York, the original home of KitKat.
“Our challenge when we set out to create a vegan-friendly KitKat was to recreate this iconic product using plant-based alternatives,” explained Louise Barrett, head of the Nestlé Confectionery Product Technology Centre.
“To achieve this, we worked very hard to get the right balance between the milk alternative and the cocoa,” she said. “The result is a vegan chocolate that we are very proud of, and I hope all KitKat fans will love it as much as we do.”
“KitKat has been championing breaks since 1934 and while people’s need for breaks hasn’t changed, the way we take them has,” added Maria McKenna, confectionery marketing manager, Nestlé Ireland. “KitKat is such a successful brand because it has evolved throughout its history, and the arrival of our vegan-friendly bar means there is now a delicious alternative for anyone looking to enjoy a plant-based break.”
Nestlé is helping people embrace more plant-based food, with options across its wide range of food and beverages, including dairy-free coffee mixes and Carnation Vegan condensed milk.
KitKat V is certified vegan by the Vegan Society. Like the rest of the KitKat range, it is made using 100% certified sustainable cocoa, sourced through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan in conjunction with the Rainforest Alliance.
Healthy meals for busy people
Roots and Shoots was founded out of the need for tasty and healthy, plant-based meals that could be eaten on the go. Its meal bowls and soups are packed full of hearty goodness and mouth-watering flavours, for full-time vegans or the fast growing number of flexitarians. Roots and Shoots vegan meals are on-shelf in selected Tesco Ireland stores, Joyce’s of Galway and selected Fresh The Good Food Supermarket stores.
The company takes great pride in the making of its products, and to make sure they’re as tasty as possible, the chefs use classic techniques throughout the cooking process. Starting with lightly toasting spices to bring out their aromas, they then combine these with gently sweated onions and vegetables to fuse together all of their gorgeous flavours. Each meal bowl is slow cooked for over two hours to develop their flavours and textures, which has the added bonus of eliminating the need for artificial additives to flavour the thicken making all the dishes natural, hearty and healthy.
There’s nothing added to the meals or soups, no additives, no preservatives and they are naturally gluten free. Roots and Shoots meals are calorie friendly and made in the group’s nut free facility in Galway, using fully recyclable packaging. They are a generous portion size, developed for single serving but easily stretched to two with sides.
What’s more, Roots and Shoots meals and soups are inspired by global flavours. The vegan meals include spicy and creamy South Indian inspired Kerala Aubergine Curry, a Chickpea and Butternut Tagine infused with cumin and coriander, Chana Palak Masala is a chickpea and spinach curry packed with warming flavours and rich tasting textures and spicy Green Lentil Dahl, slow cooked with lemongrass, fresh coriander and chillies.
Pizza da Piero offers a blank canvas for vegan pizza lovers. These stonebaked pizza bases were crowned Gold winners at the Blas na hEireann food awards last year.
Italian master baker Gianpiero De Vallier and his Irish wife Cliona set up Pizza da Piero in 2007 when friends and family were blown away by the great-tasting pizza bases Piero was making.
Piero’s traditional method of creating the dough is over a two day period and they attribute the unique flavour of the bases to the long fermentation process. The ingredients are simple and contain no preservatives, sugars or additives and are also vegan friendly.
Over the years, Cliona says she has seen a thriving community of Irish vegan pizza lovers try out the bases and share their great experiences online. Nothing beats a good, fresh base and with Pizza da Piero that’s exactly what you get. A fresh pizza base made from traditional Italian recipes that have been passed down to Piero from his family in Italy.
Rising early, Piero makes the bases fresh and daily in his Dublin bakery, available in packs of two large 12” bases or four mini 6” bases.
Porter & Nash’s range of plant-based sauces were created by Gavin Cassidy and Eoin Lennon, both professional chefs with over 50 years combined experience in the food industry including training at 2 star Michelin level. “We met while topping up our qualifications with a culinary arts degree in TU Dublin Tallaght and developed a range of plant-based Gravy and Sauces made with Roasted Root Vegetables and Irish Sea Kelp,” the duo said. The range is made with a gluten-free recipe, with no fat, low salt and low sugar; they taste and look like meat-based sauces but are entirely plant-based.
The range of products can be used as a cooking sauce or a pouring sauce for finishing roast dinners, their versatility is endless they can be used as a base for soups, Asian broths, casseroles, stews or to complement beef, pork, chicken, fish and vegetable dishes.
The group knows educating children’s taste buds and how to utilise healthy nutritious food products in family meals can be difficult for parents so they have created a cookbook showing how to incorporate the sauces into delicious dishes for all the family, which can be found on the website, porterandnash.ie.
Wholesome ingredient list
One of the hottest new vegan brands to hit the shelves in 2021 has to be Thanks Plants, created by Dublin vegan Aisling Cullen. When Aisling couldn’t understand the ingredient list of many meat alternatives in the supermarket, she decided to use her own recipes to create Thanks Plants.
The Thanks Plants range is packed with wholesome ingredients such as cannellini beans, pearl barley, vegetables and spices. The main ingredient, seitan, is what gives them a meaty bite. Products include a choice of sausages including Apple & Sage, Sundried Tomato & Herb and The Frankfurter. There is also an Everyday Roast, stuffed with wild rice and apricots which is the perfect protein alternative for a family roast.
“The response to Thanks Plants has been amazing,” says Aisling. “I get messages from customers regularly telling me they are obsessed with our products! I’ve got a burger in the pipeline for this summer and once again it will have a really wholesome ingredient list. People love the fact that Thanks Plants have that meaty bite but are full of great ingredients, plus they are packed with protein.
“We’ve also had great support from SuperValu and enjoy a strong rate of sale with all of our retailers,” she adds.
Baking better biscuits
At East Coast Bakehouse, the team believes in “Baking Better Biscuits”. That’s why it only sources the finest ingredients to make biscuits and cookies. Based in Drogheda, Co Louth, the group is a proud member of Love Irish Food. The group’s passion for baking is evident in the fact that it has won a Blas na hÉireann award every year since it was established back in 2015.
As a member of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme, the company is committed to ensuring sustainability is a core element of the business.
East Coast Bakehouse has recently launched a new vegan cookie range. Available in three flavours, the range consists of a Cocoa and Hazelnut, Lemon & Almond and Granola with Nuts & Seeds Cookie. These cookies definitely don’t compromise on taste, and are available in both retail and foodservice formats. According to Sean Murphy, managing director for East Coast Bakehouse, the group has “already secured major listings of the vegan range with Irish, UK, European and International retailers in Asia and the Middle East, with further interest from retailers looking for private label solutions”.
You’ve got the power
2020 has seen Birds Eye extend its focus into plant-based foods with the launch of the Birds Eye Green Cuisine range of meat substitutes and veg foods. In 2021, Birds Eye Green Cuisine introduced ‘chicken-free‘ to its growing range. The successful launch of chicken-free small pieces (Dippers, Strips and Nuggets) and chicken-free large pieces (Grills and Burgers) provide the perfect solution to families who want to reduce their meat-intake, or for flexitarian and vegan diets. A source of iron, fibre, protein, and most of all delicious!
Another flavoursome addition to the Green Cuisine veg foods portfolio this year is the Falafel Balls, formed from a blend of chickpeas, herbs and spices – they are so versatile and a must-try! Suitable for both vegetarian and vegan diets.
The ‘You’ve Got The Power’ campaign launched in January of this year focuses on the plant-powered goodness of the Green Cuisine range driving widespread awareness and trial. The campaign has run throughout the year to date, supported by a fully integrated plan through TV, online video, social and content partnerships.
It is a thriving time for the buoyant vegetarian category in frozen. The demand for plant-based foods has increased, and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the macro trends around health benefits of red meat reduction and food sustainability. Recognising this, Green Cuisine has grown the range over the past year, offering versatility for all dinner dishes.