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Meeting the seriously strong demand for meat-free products

"I'm a vegan," said Graham. "You'd never guess it," responded Vince. "Do you know what a vegan is, Vince?" Graham asked. "Of course he knows what a vegan is, don't you, Vince?" interjected Penny. "Absolutely, I never missed an episode of Star Trek," Vince said cheekily.

Then canned laughter filled living rooms across the UK.

The world – and humour – has come a long way since the sitcom "Just Good Friends" aired in the 1980s.

In fact, Graham would be regarded as a great early adopter of a philosophy and way of living that saw more than 500,000 people pledge to go vegan within the first week of 2021.

They participated in Veganuary, the plant-based diet challenge intended to encourage people to try a vegan diet for January and possibly beyond.

The leading supermarkets have also been helping the cause. Tesco, for example, promoted: "We’re here to help you do Veganuary your way. Whether it’s trying one meal, or going vegan for the month, we have something for everyone. Explore our great range and get all the recipe inspiration you need.”

Sainsbury’s expanded its Plant Pioneers vegan range with 20 new product launches in January and Waitrose as well as other supermarkets also had many plant-based options.

In addition to the supermarket’s initiatives during Veganuary, there was a whole raft of brand launches that included Southern Fried Plant Nuggets from Vivera, and a Plant Pantry of vegan variations from Heinz.

And that’s not to mention the now established vegan favourites from brands like Meatless Farm as well as emerging brands in the growing direct-to-door ready meal market like All Plants.

Packaging for vegan products

To support the growth in vegan preferences, complementary packaging is required to effectively protect, present, and preserve the products.

For example, at KM Packaging, we work with partners worldwide to ensure we have packaging that is certified as free of all animal derivatives.

Our vegan-suitable lidding films are ideal for plant-based products and provide the high-performance food manufacturers require including enhanced retail presentation and superior product protection. 

We offer vegan solutions in our K-Seal and K-Peel ranges, suitable for a wide variety of ambient, frozen, and chilled applications, including microwave and oven heating methods. 

Vegan solutions can also be provided for use in demanding tray sealing conditions, such as dual compartment trays, to further increase options for vegan food manufacturers. 

Anti-fog is available and our vegan lidding films can be perforated to extend the shelf life of fresh produce. We offer weld seal and peelable lidding film solutions, with specifications available to seal to a range of tray types including CPET, Mono CPET, APET, PP, foil and lacquered foil trays as well as pulp and PET-lined pressed board trays, subject to trialling.

The demand for suitable packaging will continue to grow with the appetite for vegan products. 

Significant environmental benefits

The Vegan Trade Journal has reported that the UK is the largest consumer and purchaser of plant-based milk, meat, cheese, and ready meals in Europe. 

Apparently, one in three people have stopped or reduced their meat consumption, and 25 per cent of evening meals are now vegan or vegetarian.

The global plant-based meat alternatives market is expected increase to £3.15 billion, as reported by analysts Research & Markets. And, according to the World Economic Forum, considering the health benefits, eating less beef and more beans would cut deaths by 5-7%.

There is also growing evidence a shift away from animal products would have significant environmental benefits. Business Insider recently reported that, if plant-based alternatives replaced only 10% of the global animal-based food market by 2030, it would lead to CO2 savings equivalent to 2.7 billion trees. 

The non-profit Veganuary organisation was set up in 2014 and, even in the first week, this year's uptake outnumbered the 400,000 participants in 2020. Since Veganuary's inception, people in more than 190 countries have been inspired to take part.

Whatever way you look at it, the topic of a vegan diet is no laughing matter and, as shown by the success of the Veganuary challenge, it is having a profound effect on people’s eating habits.

And that is why our team will continue to work closely with customers, tray suppliers, and sealing machinery manufacturers to develop our lidding films and offer the right solution for the desired application, including the packaging of vegan products. 

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