Vegan Patent Analytics

By Robyn Hardisty, Trainee Patent Attorney

November marks World Vegan Month which, this year, happily coincided with the COP26 conference. Veganism is becoming increasingly popular for reasons of sustainability, as well as ethical reasons. Eating less meat is believed to be one of the key steps that individuals can take to reduce their own carbon footprint. The total number of vegans in the world is currently estimated to be around 79 million, with this number expected to grow in years to come. In the UK, market-research in 2019 found that 40% of meat-eaters were also seeking to reduce their meat consumption.

As a result, we were interested to see if patents relating to vegan technology were keeping pace with the rise in plant-based food and consumer veganism. To conduct our analytics, we looked at any published patent application that mentions the term “vegan” within the full description in the last 25 years. This yielded a result of a massive 2745 patent families, including 10457 applications and 2952 granted patents.

Vegan Technology is growing over time

By looking at the number of patent families from 1997 to the present day, it is clear to see an explosion in vegan technology, with the number of patent families increasing by almost 10x in the last 10 years, and by 50x in the last 20 years.

Vegan filers

The largest filer of patent families relating to vegan technology is UBiome, followed by IBM and Nestle SA (see graph above). We found that most “vegan” patent applications are filed in the USA, closely followed by PCT applications filed at WIPO. Further behind are European patent applications filed at the EPO, Chinese and Canadian applications.

Vegan keywords and food-types

Unsurprisingly, an assessment of the keywords found the most common words to be related to “food” with other commonly appearing words relating to “protein” or “vegetable protein”. Of specific vegan food types, further searching revealed that “vegan cheese” is mentioned in a whopping 40 patent families, with “vegan burger”, “vegan chicken” and “vegan bacon” lagging behind on 12, 9 and 4 patent families respectively.

Vegan patent classification

Finally, looking to the primary classification of vegan patents, we see that most patents are classified as lying within the chemistry field. This is followed by electrical engineering, instruments and mechanical engineering.