A few years ago, being vegan was associated with hippies who lived on methane and anarchist punks whose diet was made up of legumes and vegetables.
A few decades later, veganism is taking the mainstream by storm. It has shown the world that anything meat can do, plants can do it better.
Last year, the UK launched more vegan products than any other country, making it the country’s fastest-growing food trend of 2018.
According to vegan trend statistics, it is estimated that only 3% of UK customers are vegan, half of those made the change last year and a third are millennials – the request for vegan food is driven by consumer base, environment, health reasons, and a desire to eat less meat.
How Brands Respond to Veganism’s Growth
It is really no wonder why brands are jumping on the vegan bandwagon, especially supermarkets. Supermarkets have been quick to respond to the immense growth in veganism over the last year.
Tesco, for example, was one of the first supermarkets to launch an own-label vegan line. At the beginning of 2018 Wicked Kitchen hit the shelves of 600 stores around the country.
Led by the director of plant-based innovation, Derek Sarno, Tesco sold over 4 million vegan meals within the first 8 months, promising to double the range to 46 products which now include curried protein pot, salmon-style carrot sandwich, pesto lasagna, and much more.
Together with plant-based food brands from Europe, Oumph! And Vivera, overall sales of vegan food at the largest supermarket in the UK have grown by 25%.
What’s impressive is that we are seeing more people that want to go vegan and as a result diet is growing. For some people, a specific niche is important based on their personal lifestyle and belief. There are other people who simply want a healthier diet.
Another example is Morrisons. They recently launched their vegan V Taste and since then the company has seen a shift in consumer behavior. Dave Potts, the CEO says that in the food area, there is a movement going on where people are purchasing more vegetables and not meat. That is the biggest trends we all witnesses so far.
Meanwhile, Waitrose has seen searches for vegan on their website double over the last year, with sales of branded began and own-label ranges up to 110%.
Iceland’s motivations go beyond the growing market. Although the supermarket’s boss admits the decision to launch a vegan range was a business move, Iceland is hoping it can encourage customers to think more about ethical buying decisions and protecting the environment.
Rickard Walker, Iceland’s managing director says that we all know we need to start eating more vegetables and less meat and they sell based on that logic. They are trying to encourage more plant-based options.
Veganism is Here to Stay
According to the vegan trend statistics 2019, the boom in supermarket sales ranges – there are brands who haven’t accepted this trend just yet and on the other side, there are plant-based pioneers like Quorn, Linda McCarney, and Alpro who have predicted the future – Veganism is the future.
Securing long-term appetite depends on various factors. The way products and ranges are positioned in stores will be crucial for keeping up with the trends and cutting-through in a society where meat-based diets have been normal for so long.
Vegan trend statistics UK show the Sainsbury’s move to become the first supermarket in the UK to place its vegan products, which have been designed to taste and look like meat within the meat section. You need to know your shoppers. If you don’t, there is a risk your shoppers will likely be meat owners who won’t consider your products and forget you exist.
Price is a barrier for many shoppers. Supermarket ranges are still in the beginning stages and a lot has come to the market with high prices and we all know that vegan versions of meat-like meals are more expensive. For example, at Tesco, a pack of Beyond Burgers (the popular bleeding burgers created by Beyond Meat) sells for £5.50, while Vivera products are £2.99.
We can expect the price of meat-free options to drop as supply increases but the truth is that there are plenty of other options, cheaper options that have already gained a loyal base of customers.
Newer brands will need to be really smart and give customers enough reasons to keep purchasing their products. If the end goal is to get people to eat more vegetables and less meat, price-matching meat and vegan products will be crucial in the long run. If the price of plant-based foods does reach a certain price point, it will be fun to see how this impacts sales of dairy and meat overall.
Concerns have been raised around the nutrition and overall health of supermarket ranges. Marks & Spencer’s new vegan collection has been reported to feature warnings for dairy and egg allergies. Also, Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls have a gram of sugar when compared to their sugar-free piggy peer and more salt.
Although these products are definitely better for the animal and environment welfare, not all vegan products are healthier than the standard options.
One brand that made a pretty clear point of difference around health is OAP Alpro.
Alpro is a Belgian brand, established in 1980 and is known for its alternatives to dairy products including milk and yogurt and from recently, chilled coffee and ice cream. As competition starts to heat up (especially in the milk market which now includes popular brands like Rude Health, Oatly, Rebel Kitchen, and Plenish Innocent), Alpro is preparing itself for the biggest year of innovation and marketing activation. Alpro is taking its products to the streets so all can try before they buy.
Hurry and hop on the beanwagon. Vegan trend statistics and news show that there won’t be room for everyone. Competition is good because it shows how much demand there is on the market. It also fuels innovation and the vegan market is definitely ready for that.