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We all know that Christmas will look different this year. For retailers and food brands, changes in consumer behaviour and buying trends bring with it various opportunities for the festive season. And one area where we could see real potential is in the ever-growing plant-based sector, something that could help indie retailers boost sales for 2020.
Throughout lockdown, consumers became increasingly aware of the link between the food we eat and our health. This, coupled with people’s desire to experiment with new recipes while cooking from scratch, has led to an increase in demand for plant-based products.
In May, ProVeg International released the results of a survey of over 6,000 consumers, which found that plant-based cheese, ready meals, seafood and egg alternatives were among the biggest opportunities.
Even before the pandemic, the plant-based food sector was on the rise. According to the Vegan Society, the number of vegans in Britain has increased four-fold to 600,000 since 2014. The group also predicts that vegans and vegetarians will make up one-quarter of the population, and flexitarians will comprise half, by 2025.
These growing numbers of consumers, particularly flexitarians who follow a mostly plant-based diet, are already shaping restaurant menus and product innovation. With Christmas rolling around, we’re likely to see more product launches as well as festive offerings all tailored to those who will be enjoying a meat-free holiday, whether they’re tucking in themselves, or simply hosting.
So what does this mean for retailers? Every year, the demand for chilled and frozen vegan food at supermarkets seems to grow. In 2018, Tesco witnessed a 50% increase in demand, which led to the supermarket doubling its range of vegan festive main dishes, as well as launching own-brand items.
This year, that demand is likely to grow even further, as the days of vegans and vegetarians being ‘an afterthought’ at the dinner table becomes a thing of the past. The growing trend also goes hand-in-hand with increased desires to consume more sustainable and healthier foods.
For independent retailers, stocking plant-based options this Christmas has the potential to boost sales and spend. With a growing range of vegan products on the market today, and more festive-themed offers due to be launched closer to the time, there are plenty of products, from vegan cheese platters, to nut roasts and plant-based puddings, that are worth stocking up on. By seeking out products with values that match those of the fine food sector, retailers should certainly be considering how they can capitalise on the vegan trend this Christmas.