Scotland’s main haggis producers are reporting a surge in sales of the vegetarian version of the dish ahead of Burns Night, with the rise of veganism across the UK credited as the cause.
Macsween of Edinburgh, Simon Howie Butchers and Hall’s of Scotland all said demand for vegetarian haggis had soared despite its lack of key ingredients such as sheep’s liver and lung.
With Scots around the world set to celebrate the life of Robert Burns tonight, the figures suggest that vegetarian haggis is now becoming something of a staple at Burns Suppers.
Simon Howie said sales of its vegetarian haggis were up 53 per cent this year, building on a 24 per cent increase the year before. Last year the split between its original and vegetarian haggis was 70:30, whereas this year it will be more like 60:40.
Macsween is also set to record its biggest year for vegetarian haggis, with sales last year up 8.1 per cent compared to the year before and 1.8 per cent higher this January compared to the same month last year.
Current owner James Macsween said his father John had invented the first commercially available vegetarian haggis in 1984, with the product now making up about 25 per cent of its turnover.
He said some of the spike was being driven by meat eaters, who were choosing to have the vegetarian option instead, perhaps because they regarded it as healthier.
“I think there is a trend towards vegetarianism and veganism – you can’t turn on the TV without hearing about how eating more vegetables is going to save the planet,” he said.
Mr Howie said: “The popularity of flexitarianism and healthy eating campaigns like Veganuary over the last couple of years has really seen consumers think differently. Vegetarian options are no longer just for vegetarians.
“The media spotlight on these trends influence buyers, who increase listings which in turn increases sales. It’s great to give the consumer more options.”
As well as its alternative to haggis, his company recently launched a vegetarian version of that Scottish breakfast staple, the square sausage, and has been surprised by its popularity.
“[It] has really made us think what other vegan alternatives we can bring to market – maybe not what you would expect to hear from a butcher,” Mr Howie said.
The increased interest in vegetarian options comes after Macsween confirmed it had exported £25,000 worth of haggis to Canada this month to meet growing demand.
The producer made history in 2017 when it became the first company to export the dish to Canada since 1971, after developing a new recipe that meets the country’s food safety regulations.