There is something fishy about the rise of vegan food on supermarket shelves.
Ethical shoppers increasingly turn to “fake fish” substitutes as producers create substitutes such as fish-free scampi, tuna and salmon.
Sainsbury’s has introduced eight fish-alternative products in its stores since January and a spokesman said that they had exceeded sales expectations by 50 per cent.
In Britain as a whole, the number of stores selling Tuno, a fishless canned tuna, has expanded from 300 to 2,000 in the 11 weeks since it was introduced.
Quorn started its fishless range two years ago and said it had contributed to a 12 per cent year-on-year increase in sales of its meat-substitute products, including “vegan fishless fingers”.
The trend follows the booming market for plant-based meat substitutes, such as “beef-style” burgers or “pork-style” sausages.
The UN published its “special report on climate change and land” this week, which advocated a plant-based diet, saying: “Meat analogues such as imitation meat [from plant products] may help in the transition to more healthy and sustainable diets.”
The market for meat substitutes, plant-based foods which mimic the texture and flavour of meat, is forecast to be worth £1.1 billion globally by 2023.
Tuno is made from soy protein and is designed to recreate the flaky texture and taste of real tuna. Quorn uses rice flakes, wheat flour and mycoprotein derived from fungi to create fishless fingers. The Linda McCartney brand produces “vegetarian scampi bites” made from soya and wheat protein and potato flakes.
Rosie Bambaji, a buyer for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re seeing increasing demand for plant-based products, and with the unstoppable rise of flexitarianism in the UK [where people eat less meat without becoming fully vegetarian], we’re always looking out for distinctive ways to diversify our range of vegetarian and vegan products.”
A spokeswoman for Quorn said: “As programmes hosted by celebrities such as David Attenborough continue to shine a light on the impact we’re having on the planet, consumers are being more mindful than ever of what they eat and serve their family, this has resulted in a surge in people buying into the meat-free and fishless ranges.”
Dominika Piasecka, of the Vegan Society, said: “By switching to vegan versions of fish and other animal products, people can still enjoy their favourite flavours without supporting industries that treat animals like rubbish and harm our planet.”
The Peta animal rights charity said: “Innovative vegan foods allow people to choose an animal-friendly version of a food they’re already familiar with while avoiding the blood, guts, and suffering.”