Meat dishes are still the most popular in the out-of-home market despite a year-on-year increase in meat-free meals, according to research from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

According to AHDB, dishes containing meat, fish and poultry account for the majority of spend in the out-of-home market.

Meat-free meals, including vegetarian and plant-based meals, account for 15.1% of spend in the out-of-home market despite a year-on-year increase of 23.1%.

Despite the year-on-year increase, AHDB said the majority of top dishes are still meat driven, with 97% of burgers being meat or poultry based.

Nearly nine in ten Asian-cuisine meals and 80% of Indian-cuisine meals include meat, fish or poultry and this highlights its “importance” for driving value out-of-home, AHDB said.


Despite the increasing popularity of Veganuary (when people attempt to eat plant-based for the month of January), no January increase in meat-free meals in the out-of-home market was recorded this year, according to the AHDB.

AHDB said this may be because it and Kantar’s analysis showed that plant-based foods may come at a higher price.

The average cost of a plant-based meal in the out-of-home market is £7.49, compared with £3.76 for pork, £5.52 for beef and £5.65 for chicken. The average price of a vegetarian meal is £5.06.

Retail insight manager for AHDB, Rebecca Gladman, said: “Amidst the cost-of-living backdrop, consumers will inevitably look for ways to save money. While vegetarian meals are competitively priced, plant-based dishes do come at a premium to pork, beef and chicken.

“Therefore, the main area of risk for the meat category in the out of home market isn’t meat alternatives, but rather dishes that are vegetarian by nature, such as cheese sandwiches and meat-free pizzas.”

AHDB said one of the key differences between meat-free meals and meat, fish and poultry-based meals in the out-of-home market is where they are consumed or bought.

Research from the board shows that meat, fish and poultry meals are more likely to be bought in fast-food restaurants, whereas the popularity of vegetarian sandwiches means meat-free takes a bigger share in coffee shops.

AHDB senior retail insight manager, Kim Heath, said: “Within meat free, coffee shops and cafes have gained at the lunch occasion.

“However, people are still more likely to consume meat, fish or poultry for their main meal, which is typically a more expensive, bigger occasion.

“For meat, fish and poultry to maintain its importance in the out of home market, opportunities lie in further menu innovation.”