Waitrose sales of vegan festive food up by 40% confirming a shift away from Christmas turkey

Traditional Christmas food is changing

“The majority of families (76%) around the UK will serve up a succulent roast turkey as the centrepiece of their festive meal this Christmas,” says the British Turkey website. It added that around 10 million turkeys were eaten in the UK last Christmas. Who would bet against these figures being on a decline?

The UK supermarket Waitrose has confirmed that its vegan Christmas range is seeing a sales increase of over 40 per cent compared to last Christmas.

Charlotte McCarthy, Waitrose’s vegan and vegetarian buyer, said: “Our vegan range has been growing in popularity for a number of years, however, we anticipate this Christmas will be the biggest ever for vegan food.

“We’ve worked really hard to ensure that there is an exciting range available for our customers and that we offer an entirely vegan Christmas dinner – trimmings and all!”

Waitrose’s Vegan Root En Croute and Nut Roast with cranberry sauce has been doing particularly well, as has the mushroom and chestnut pâté.

The increase in sales is very much in line with Waitrose’s overall increase in demand for its vegan food of 35 per cent over the past year. The supermarket chain said in its annual Food and Drink Report 2019/20 that Britain was showing a tendency towards veganism but not quite committing. Its vegan ready meals now outsell its vegetarian counterparts.

40% of households may go without a traditional turkey Christmas meal

These results are very much in harmony with recent research commissioned by Whole Foods Market. It found that at least 40% of households are set to go without a traditional turkey dinner this Christmas with at least 10% providing for a completely vegetarian Christmas Day.  

With an estimated more than a quarter of people hosting someone who is vegetarian, gluten-free or vegan, the consumption of turkey is likely to be on a downward trajectory.

This trend is certainly more consistent with the younger demographic. Millennials are embracing change showing a completely new attitude to their eating habits led by concerns about health, animal welfare and the planet. But these thoughts are not uppermost in the minds of the over 55s of whom the vast majority, 82% will be sticking to a very traditional Christmas Day turkey menu.

Of the group that is to forsake the traditional meal, the reasons for doing so are very evenly divided between animal welfare (19%), health (22%) and environmental concerns (23%). 

This UK trend is very much in alignment with recent US research which showed that 30% of Americans were considering having a turkey free Thanksgiving Dinner last November.

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Richard Williams

Richard Williams, a graduate of the University of Worcester in Entrepreneurship, has experience in promoting cruelty-free products recognised by PETA. He is creating Coworking Locations with vegan-friendly gourmet food in an area suited to yogis and collaborative vegan lifestyle brands. He is also working in the Vegan and Yoga Vacation sector. Contact:
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