How to hit the trends and cash in on Veganuary 2023

13 December 2022, 09:36 AM
  • With Veganuary right around the corner, we find out how and why to stock up on plant-based alternatives
How to hit the trends and cash in on Veganuary 2023

With a growing number of consumers now looking to incorporate more plant-based alternatives into their diet, now is the time to consider whether stocking up on vegan products could work for your shop.

In fact, over 700,000 Brits are estimated to officially commit to a plant-based diet for the month of January, so getting your offering right in the new year is important. 

Why indies should stock plant-based
As Philip Linardos, CEO of ShelfNow, explains, “Consumer interest in plant-based products has been steadily evolving over recent years and the demand for more variety and higher quality products along with it. 

“Initially, plant-based options were perceived as just a replacement for meat, but now we are seeing a shift in attitude towards this sector as it continues to go from strength to strength and consumers actively seek out innovative and healthy vegan food.”

According to Morten Toft Bech, founder of Meatless Farm, “As more and more consumers identify as “flexitarian” it is important independent retailers stock a wide range of exciting and nutritionally balanced plant-based foods that taste delicious. 

“Stocking vegan and vegetarian products not only makes for a good business decision, but it also provides an opportunity for retailers to have a positive impact on the well-being of consumers and the environment.”

While your customers may not be plant-based themselves, it is likely they will have a vegan or vegetarian family member or friend, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got all bases covered in the new year.

In fact, as Ana Purcaroiu, senior consumer analyst at GlobalData, explained, “People will increasingly base their choice of retailer on the availability of plant-based products, as GlobalData’s survey revealed that 21% of UK millennials claim that the availability of special dietary products is the most influential factor when deciding where to do their grocery shopping.”

Getting the vegan trend right
It’s also important to consider what you’ll be stocking and whether these products hit the trends in the plant-based sphere. 

According to Morten, “As we look to 2023 it’s clear more and more consumers want plant-based foods that go beyond simple swaps for animal protein. Consumers want to enjoy plant-based products that deliver on taste and texture providing the same sensory experience as their meaty counterparts. 

“The cost-of-living crisis has also meant ready meals have become an affordable alternative to takeaways. Given that 40% of the population identify as ‘flexitarian’, greater consideration should be given to this category and how it could evolve to meet the needs of consumers looking for exciting new ways to enjoy more plants.”

In general, consumers are becoming more conscious of sustainability and the impact of their food choices. As Philip explained, “Being sustainable is one of the reasons that customers opt for a vegan diet. Therefore, we are seeing more brands with a dedication to making zero waste the norm across the food and beverage industry. 

“For example, sustainable vegan hummus producer, ChicP, uses surplus wonky vegetables for its products – ingredients which are all too frequently regarded and discarded as waste.

“Retailers could also stock vegan products with trending ingredients that consumers are keen to try. For example, the CBD market has exploded in recent years with many Brits seeing the benefits of CBD in their diets. Mushrooms have been a trending superfood for several years now with their hidden benefits being documented in popular shows such as the Netflix documentary Fantastic Fungi.”

Encouraging customers to try plant-based
It might seem a difficult feat to convince some fine food shoppers to try a plant-based alternative, but getting involved with events and making vegan options fun are surefire ways to get customers on board. 

As Philip explained, “Encouraging individuals to make more conscious decisions during their weekly shop should be proactively encouraged given the impact the food system has on the planet.

“Stocking new plant-based products in time for well-known calendar events such as Veganuary is a great way to attract consumer footfall and generate excitement in store. Yet, to stand out from the competitive retail market, independent retailers can ensure that they are catering to the trend by stocking a wide range of unique products that recognise what consumers are seeking.”

Morten suggests, “Independent retailers can encourage customers to try more plant-based products by creating eye-catching displays and using clear signage as it helps to highlight the benefits eating more plants has on the environment. 

“For example, recent studies from Oxford University show that swapping a red meat meal for a plant-based meal once a week can help to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 million tonnes.

“Earlier this year we found that almost half of consumers would be more likely to buy plant-based ready meals if they were sold next to their meat counterparts. Retailers should make the shopper journey as easy and accessible as possible – searching for meat alternatives shouldn’t be inconvenient.”

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