Sales of plant-based foods have increased by 40% from £582m in 2014 to £816m in 2019 as meat-eaters opt for vegan alternatives, according to research by market research firm Mintel.
The data showed that the proportion of meat eaters who have reduced their meat consumption has risen from 28% in 2017 to 39% in 2019.
Mintel global food & drink analyst Kate Vlietstra said: "The rising popularity of flexitarian diets has helped to drive demand for meat-free products. Many consumers perceive that plant-based foods are a healthier option, and this notion is the key driver behind the reduction in meat consumption in recent years.
"As the meat-free market becomes increasingly crowded, brands will need to find more ways to distinguish themselves from their competitors – it's no longer enough to just be meat-free. Meat-free products are generally aimed towards young professionals, who tend to be receptive to trying new foods, but we are also likely to see these products targeted at both children and over-55s in the future.
The increased appetite for meat-free meals resulted in almost a quarter (23%) of new food launches in 2019 being labelled as vegan. Mintel predicts sales of plant-based food could be in excess of £1.1b by 2024.
Mintel was founded in 1972 and specialises in consumer-based market research.