The number of trademarks registered for vegan food in the UK jumped 128% in 2019 as the trend for plant-based foods accelerates.
According to EMW, the commercial law firm, there were 107 trademarks for vegan food products registered in the UK 2019, up from just 47 in 2018.
EMW says the fast-growing vegan food category has attracted interest from large corporates over recent years, who are investing heavily in launching branded products into the market.
Among these were consumer goods giant, Unilever, which trademarked vegan ice cream and supermarket chain Lidl, which trademarked a range of vegan products including pastries and baguettes.
Restaurant chains Honest Burgers and Leon were also among the UK companies to register trademarks last year, for items including meat substitutes and plant-based condiments.
Corporates are rushing to trademark the most attractive names for their vegan products and brands. For example, two different manufacturers in the UK are trademarking product names based on variations of “Beyond Butter”, “Beyond Cheese” and “Beyond Mince”.
The rapid expansion of the vegan food category is also spurring M&A activity in the sector with Upfield, the owner of Flora, acquiring the vegan cheese producer Violife for a reported €500 million.
There were 600,000 vegans in the UK last year, up from just 140,000 in 2014, with vegan food being one of the fastest growing food categories.
Sales of meat free products rose by 40% to £816 million last year and one in four new food products launched was vegan. Manufacturers hope that continued growth in sales will allow them to achieve higher profit margins on these products than comparable non-vegan products.
EMW says the race to tap into the vegan market has expanded into the fast food sector. KFC sold one million vegan burgers during their first month of sales in January 2020 whilst Greggs’ vegan sausage roll was a social media hit upon launch.
EMW predicts that people making lifestyle choices and paying closer attention to their diet during lockdown, could lead many to incorporate more plant-based food into their diets, which would further boost the market.