Key developments in the plant-based foods sector | Fieldfisher
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Key developments in the plant-based foods sector - Part 1

John Cassels



This special edition rounds up some of the key developments in the plant-based foods sector from the past year. 


Industry developments


'Veganuary 2021' hits 500,000 sign-ups as supermarkets suggest reasons to try vegan this January

Veganuary – the non-profit organisation which has, since 2014, promoted the campaign in the UK for plant-based eating in January – has announced that 500,000 people signed up for the 31-day challenge within the first few days of 2021. A number of the UK's major supermarkets are also promoting the campaign. 

Fast food chains expand plant-based offering 

KFC is reintroducing its "original recipe" vegan burger and expanding its plant-based fried chicken trial in the US, McDonalds is set to debut its "McPlant" Beyond Meat burger, and Greggs will be launching its vegan sausage roll for sale in Iceland supermarkets in the UK.

13 trends that have defined Veganuary innovation

The Grocer has found that vegan innovation has prospered despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with plant-based comfort food proving to be a favourite. 

Regulatory developments

Labelling of plant-based food products in the EU

On 23 October 2020, the European Parliament voted on proposed amendments to the Common Agricultural Policy which would affect how plant-based food products could be labelled in the EU. MEPs voted against the so-called 'veggie burger ban', which would have banned the use of meat-related terms, such as 'burger' and 'steak', for plant-based food products. However, they voted to tighten restrictions on the labelling of plant-based dairy alternatives, to prevent the use of dairy descriptors such as "yoghurt-style" and "cheese-alternative", following an ECJ ruling on the issue. 

US lawsuit challenge to vegan labelling laws

In September 2020, Upton’s Naturals, which sells “100% vegan” products, challenged a law in Oklahoma requiring the company to include a disclaimer on its product labels stating that the food was plant-based. The disclaimer was required to be at least as prominent as the name of the product. A federal judge refused to block the law but Upton's Naturals is reportedly appealing that decision. 

Singapore Food Agency approves lab-grown 'chicken' meat

The Singapore Food Agency has given regulatory approval for the world’s first 'meat' that does not come from slaughtered animals. The decision paves the way for San Francisco-based start-up Eat Just to sell 'lab-grown' chicken meat. The meat will initially be used in nuggets, but the company has not yet confirmed when they will become available. 

Ethical veganism determined to be a protected belief in England and Wales

This time last year, an Employment Tribunal determined that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief which qualifies as a 'protected belief' within the meaning of Section 10 of the Equality Act 2010. In August, a report by The Times revealed that the number of crimes committed against vegans was increasing.