Specialty Food Magazine

MAR 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 33 of 63

NATURAL SELECTIONS Vegging Out Whether they are passionately meat-free, newly concerned about environmental and animal issues or just looking for more healthful options, consumers are increasingly buying vegetarian and vegan snacks. BY JULIE BESONEN M eatless options in the marketplace are on the rise thanks to an increasing number of vegetarians and semi- vegetarians. A 2011 nationwide poll conducted by Harris Interactive found that about one-third of Americans report they often eat vegetarian meals. This surprising number is in addition to the five percent of Americans who identify as strictly vegetarian, up from one percent of the population in 2005. Allowing for a margin of error, this translates to an estimated five million to 12 million adults who may be looking for ready-to-eat snack foods when car- rot sticks or an apple just won't do. And manufacturers are stepping up to deliver those salty and sweet veggie eats. The Consumers "Approximately 48 percent of people who go out to eat some- times order vegetarian meals," says John Cunningham, con- sumer research manager of the Vegetarian Resource Group, Baltimore, Md., who commissioned the survey. "That means when you're making a vegetarian item you're not just marketing it to vegetarians and vegans, but to a much larger population out there." Roughly half of vegetarians—2.5 percent of the popula- tion—are also vegan, meaning all animal products, including dairy and eggs, are taboo. While the number of true vegans may seem small, Cunningham concedes, "a vegan snack is acceptable to all kinds of vegetarians. And every one of that 48 percent who occasionally eat vegetarian is going to be interested in it. It's actually the most inclusive way to get your products to the largest market." This shift in attitude and eating habits has become appar- ent to suppliers, consumers and nutritionists, like Katherine Tallmadge, the author of Diet Simple and a frequent guest on national news programs. "Health is not necessarily the main MARCH 2012 31

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