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More than 629,000 people took part in Veganuary 2022, breaking all previous records, and the 2023 campaign is looking ready to surpass this target. With plenty of opportunities for independent retailers to make the most of this yearly event, we explore why and how you can cash in.
Why you should cash in
With more and more people going meat and dairy-free for the first month of the year, Veganuary presents a strong business opportunity for indies.
As Toni Vernelli, international head of communications at Veganuary, explained, “Plant-based food has taken the culinary world by storm in recent years, and it’s clear that it can no longer be dismissed as a passing fad. The industry is set to be worth $30 billion by 2026 according to Statista, giving businesses an exciting opportunity to get involved in the plant-based buzz.”
In fact, according to Philip Linardos, CEO of digital wholesaler ShelfNow, “By the time Christmas is over many of us want a fresh start to the year, Veganuary is perfectly timed as an easy way for consumers to move to a plant-based diet – for both health and environmental reasons.
“Recent research has shown half of Brits are planning to make an environmental resolution in 2023, with over a third of non-vegans new year’s resolutions including plans to reduce meat and dairy consumption.
“As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, consumers are choosing to spend less, with many individuals cooking from scratch more often, and it has opened up opportunities for fine food retailers to provide quality alternatives for vegan home cooking ingredients.”
Olivia Sinclair, marketing manager at EatPlanted, agreed, “It’s a moment in the public consciousness, it would make total sense for retailers to tap into a moment! It’s an opportunity to trial something new, test the appetite with existing customers and tap into a new audience. Furthermore, it’s regarded as ‘new news’, vegan products are on the rise and it allows people to experiment with something they might not usually try – then find they love it!”
While the multiples roll out hundreds of new products for the month, indies have a unique opportunity to be selective and only stock the highest quality vegan options.
For Laura Roberts, owner of Laura’s Larder, this means focusing on delicious products that just happen to be vegan. “We have tried hard at Laura’s Larder to push products that are tasty whether they are vegan or not.
“I don’t believe there should be vegan this and non-vegan that, we should all be incorporating some vegan products into our diets and cupboards throughout the whole year. We only sell Seggiano pesto, for example, all your round, not because it’s vegan but because it’s great and just happens to be vegan. Same for Booja Booja truffles if we’re pushing chocolate gifts. Great chocolates that just happen to be vegan.
“We have a very small space so don’t even really have a vegan section as it’s throughout the whole shop. It’s quite nice to surprise ‘non-believers’ that what they are eating is vegan and better than what they know.”
Encouraging customers to try plant-based
While not everyone will be interested in buying vegan options during January, many customers will either have a friend or family member who is vegetarian/vegan or be looking to improve their health in the new year.
For Olivia, “A great way to encourage customers to try more plant-based foods is running an exciting POS or intro offers to incentivise a trial of the product. Recipe cards are also a good option to provide some inspiration on what people could do. If nervous, they could start with one or two categories, e.g., dairy, confectionery, or plant-based meat. And lastly, call on the brands they stock to support them with POS, marketing activations, etc.”
According to Philip, “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.
“For example, some producers listed on our marketplace use surplus vegetables that would ordinarily be discarded and others use organic produce as the foundation of their products. We are finding that sustainability is increasingly important to some of the vegan consumers when they are deciding what to purchase.
“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.”
At Laura’s Larder, “We are visually promoting some key vegan products in store and we don’t usually have a vegan section as like it to permeate through everything, so it really will highlight them. We are also bringing some new vegan items onto the menu as specials, and offering some in store tastings.
“Weekly recipe social media posts using vegan products from the shop will undoubtedly drive sales and they can be tagged Veganuary - we have a few of those planned on the schedule.
“As with any umbrella opportunity it’s just worth looking at what you have and what you do and how it can be packaged under Veganuary - just don’t forget that encouraging Veganism whether fully or in part is for life and not just for January!”, Laura concluded.