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Plant-Based Alternatives 2019

How to make ‘meat-free’ a tasty option for all

Amy (centre) and her parents Rachel and Andy

Nicholas Turner

European Sales Director, Amy’s Kitchen

The perception of frozen and convenience food is changing in the UK — as long as consumers know that the meals they are eating are made with good quality, traceable ingredients.

In 1987 while Rachel was pregnant and on bed rest, Andy went looking for ready-made meals at their natural grocery store in Petaluma California. When he couldn’t find anything organic and vegetarian that satisfied their taste buds, they decided to make their own.

And so, Amy’s Kitchen was conceived: a company — which the Berliners named after their soon-to-be-born daughter — that makes healthy, meat-free, frozen convenience meals with a home-made style and quality, with traceable and organic ingredients.

Over the years, the business has grown to cater for people with dietary intolerances, and has expanded its range with vegan options, organic soups and even the launch of a vegetarian drive-thru restaurant in Rohnert Park, California.

Consumer attitude to food is changing

Nicholas Turner, the company’s European Head of Sales, believes that the consumer perception of frozen food is improving in the UK. For one thing, frozen doesn’t mean ‘poor quality’ anymore, in fact the connotations are that frozen ingredients can be better quality and fresher than ones you might find in the fresh or chilled aisles.

There is a growing younger demographic who are seeking out healthy and convenient options and frozen products appeal to them.

As consumers are actively seeking healthier options for their diet, it stands to reason, then, that increasing numbers of us are demanding to know more about the ingredients in our ready meals. “We care more about what we are putting into our bodies these days,” agrees Turner. “We are doing our research, reading the back of pack to find out what’s in the products we are buying. People would prefer to see a list of recognisable ingredients which would be common in most kitchens.”

The perception of vegetarian and vegan food has changed, too. Ten years ago, vegetarians, vegans or anyone with specific intolerances such as Gluten or Lactose, might find a couple of dishes they could eat on a restaurant menu. Now they have more choice. The ‘free from’ aisle in supermarkets is growing,  as are people’s expectations! “We have become accustomed to having a range of options for different dietary needs,” says Turner.

With people caring more about what they are eating, they are also considering what impact their diet has on the environment. One of the many positives to becoming meat free is sustainability – Turner says “as a vegetarian business we have a much lower carbon footprint. Not only is it healthy for you – it is healthier for the planet too.”

Making more of meat-free options

Turner would encourage everyone to eat more meat-free meals, convenience, frozen or otherwise.

“Cooking every dish ‘meat free’ could be challenging for someone who has never been vegetarian before so perhaps try one meal a week, such as ‘meat-free Monday?

“Ultimately it is all about having a healthy, balanced diet. There are so many delicious and healthy options out there for people who are interested in going meat free. It has never been so accessible – just do a bit of research online or pop into your local supermarket and try something new!” says Turner.

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