If you don’t stock vegan food yet, here’s why you should

02 November 2020, 08:07 AM
  • Is it time that plant-based options became more widely available? asks Ellen Jenne
If you don’t stock vegan food yet, here’s why you should

It’s hard to avoid the impact of Covid-19 on all aspects of food retail and trade over 2020. With non-essential shops and hospitality venues closing for between three and four months, establishments whose revenue came from the sales of food and drink products had to adapt to the uncertain times ahead.

Food habits have changed over a short space of time during lockdown, with home DIY food kits becoming a source for food businesses to make their money.

November is World Vegan Month, headed up by The Vegan Society as a way to highlight the change in people’s attitude to plant-based food. Veganuary has become an ever-increasing trend over the years, with over 400,000 people signing up in 2020, according to Veganuary Campaign UK, where the campaign also found that going vegan for January leads to sustained meat reduction.

But it’s not all about the meat, the popularity of dairy alternatives continues to show that there are preferences for milk-alternatives in morning coffees. If cafes and coffee shops have these alternatives available there will always be people who opt in favour of an almond milk. Mintel reports that the Free-from Foods in the UK were in demand by parents but highlighted that there needs to be a reason to win over non-users.

The Covid-19 pandemic has since changed our attitudes to our lifestyles, and with food remaining a critical issue over this past year, it seems more people are becoming more conscious about their food choices. Plantbasednews.com recently highlighted that in a report done by Tachnavio, that the demand for the frozen vegan food market is poised for a $64.69 billion industry growth between now and 2024.

A survey done of former Veganuary participants showed that 32% were eating more vegan food as a result of Covid- 19.

Mintel also highlighted the need for food businesses to adapt to the consumers’ needs. Whether the change in demand is set in motion by a need for healthier options, food that accommodates varying dietary requirements, or if people are spurred on by environmental and ethical reasons around the meat and dairy industries.

Climate change can also be a contributing factor for the change in attitude of many in the UK. The public are mindful of plastic waste, opting for reusable water bottles, cutlery and containers – especially as news reports highlighted an issue in surgical masks littering beaches. A problem that contributes to the pollution of our oceans.

It is important to adjust to those requires, especially in a time of constant adjustment in the time of the “new normal”.

So why stop there? With Whole Foods announcing that they’re on the lookout for new vegan and keto brands to add to their shelves in 2021, there is a definite demand for the option of plant-based and vegan alternatives.

London’s first vegan butcher, Rudy’s, is set to open in the next couple of weeks. A spokesperson for the business said: “The appetite for vegan and plant-based offerings is definitely out there, so we’d definitely encourage retailers and businesses of all sizes to embrace plant-based offerings and make these wider and more accessible.”

Rudy’s Vegan Butcher discussed the types of products they plan to introduce that could be of potential interest to fine food and independent retailers, such as brand new charcuterie selection, which they described as “the perfect appetiser to enjoy with a glass of wine or aperitif.”

Rudy’s spokesperson said: “Our meat-free alternatives to smoked ham, salami de provence, pepperoni and pastrami have been carefully developed to recreate those textures and smoked flavours of cured cuts, so that anyone can enjoy artisanal-style plant-based produce.”

Only at the end of September, ASDA announced that they plan to become the first supermarket in the UK to implement an aisle dedicated to plant-based and vegan food, launching over 100 new products.

BBC programme Eat Well for Less highlighted the work of Devil’s Kitchen, a company that provides caters and wholesalers’ vegan options for schools and colleges across the country. The company owned by Dale Vince, who was behind the world’s first vegan football club, already provides meals for around 8,000 schools.

There is an impetus for independent retailers, delis, and food halls to cater to a wider audience, as it may open their businesses for a new type of traction. Department store Fortnum & Mason only lists three products on their website as being suitable for vegans, two of which are Christmas products. Harrods was also found not have a dietary requirement filter for their food products. Are they missing a key target demographic by limiting the products they sell?

It’s hard to ignore the ever-increasing demand and inclusion of plant-based products and alternatives in a variety of different food and beverage outlets. Veganism is spoken of as a trend that’s only been garnering a wider following over the past six years. It seems only a matter of time before the public can access more plant-based alternatives more freely and via a variety of different retailers.

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