Sales of fake-meat products in Irish supermarkets slumped by more than 5% in January despite record sales growth across the wider grocery sector. According to new figures from market analytics firm Kantar, sales of fake-meat or plant-based meat alternatives fell 5% in the 12-week period to the end of January to just €2.2m (see Table 1).

The month of January, which is often dubbed “Veganuary” by proponents of plant-based foods, is typically the strongest month for sales of alternative vegan foods.

According to Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, the weakness in sales of fake-meat products has been noticeable over the last 12 months since COVID-19 hit.

“January is the biggest month for sales of meat alternatives. Our data shows us that shoppers are actually leaving the category. A significant number of consumers who dipped into the meat-free category in January 2020 didn’t come back this year,” said Healy.

“We’ve seen this consumer trend away from alternative meat products since COVID-19 first hit in March last year. Consumers have certainly indulged more over the last year but it also seems as if there is increasing awareness of the low nutrition quality of these products,” she added.

The drop in sales of fake-meat products is at odds with the wider grocery market, which has consistently seen double-digit sales growth since March last year. From November to January, Kantar data shows Irish grocery sales increased by 16% year on year to €3.2bn.

Sales of fresh meat recorded double-digit growth of 17% in this period to hit €333m, with sales of beef, pork and lamb all enjoying buoyant growth.

On the dairy aisles, sales of butter, cheese and fresh milk have also seen bumper sales growth in recent months. Sales of fake-milk products such as soya, almond or oat drinks have seen strong growth too.