In January 2010 there were 3m searches for ‘Vegan’ in the UK. Fast Forward to January 2020 and there were 100m searches. The Vegan movement has changed from an Activist-based political statement to a more wholesome, socially acceptable and responsible lifestyle choice, aided by the hugely successful ‘Veganuary’. The event has gone from a standing start in 2014 to have over 540.000 signups in 2021. The popularity of Vegan Foods is only going one way.
Only around 1% of the population are Vegan, so although the market may appear small, the reach is far greater. Levercliff’s January 2021 tracking survey found that 11% of all non-vegan consumers were taking up Veganuary 2021 – a significant number, with 9% of all consumers buying specifically vegan foods, rising to 17% in the 18-34 age group. Why? The top reason was to aid weight loss, to kick start healthy eating, for animal welfare reasons and to support others who are also doing it.
As a category, Vegan foods performed strongly in the retail market in 2020. Granted, most categories have performed strongly due to Lockdown boosting retail food and drink spending, but Vegan foods have been performing ahead of the category. According to Kantar, chilled vegan sales growth was over 25% in 2020, more than double the rest of the category, while in frozen, vegan growth was 15% versus 13%.
These type of numbers make retailers very happy, and encourage increased space, SKU count and innovation. Exactly what we’re seeing across most retailers.
January has become the time of the year to launch Vegan products. The failure rate appears significant, but the innovation levels are high. This year we’ve seen large scale investment from the Coop into their ‘GRO’ range, while Asda have followed Sainsburys lead from a few years ago and launched a Vegan Butcher called ‘Veelicious’. They claim it’s a ‘test and learn’ trial to see what resonates with consumers.
Product wise, there’s been a distinct focus towards ‘fixing the basics’, with a number of ‘staple foods’ becoming available in Vegan varieties including a broader range from Heinz, liquid egg from Crackd, ‘milk’ chocolate from Galaxy and a broad range of vegan mince meat alternatives.
If your company hasn’t seriously developed a plan for Vegan products, now is the time to think seriously about it.