The Vegan Society: “UK rail companies should provide more vegan food options onboard”

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01 Aug 2018 --- The Vegan Society is targeting rail companies in the UK with their latest campaign to improve catering for vegans in the travel sector this summer. The company's “Vegan on the Go” campaign encourages supporters of veganism to contact rail companies asking them to offer vegan food and drink options onboard trains.

Companies such as East Midlands Trains, Transpennine Express and Great Western Railway have been targeted with email templates and tweets.

Louise Davies, Head of Campaigns, Policy and Research at The Vegan Society, says: “Our survey last year found out that 80 percent of vegans often go hungry onboard trains.”

“We would like more options than a packet of ready salted crisps on a long journey and would love for train companies to hop on board and help us to make vegan travel plain sailing.”

“We’d love to see at least one savory and one sweet vegan food option as well as plant milk being offered onboard trains, and we’re more than happy to offer advice and resources to companies wishing to improve their vegan offerings,” explains Davies.

Veganism is growing at an exponential rate and is an untapped market that could offer huge opportunities for restaurant owners, investors and food developers.

Consumers are more conscious than ever about making responsible food choices that are not only healthy, but that also take sustainability and ethical considerations into account. 

According to data from Innova Market Insights, there has been a 45 percent average annual growth of food and beverage launches with a vegan positioning (CAGR, 2013-2017). New launches with a vegan positioning increased its market penetration in Europe from 1.5 percent in 2013, to 7 percent in 2017. 

A CAGR in products featuring the plant-based claims such as “plant-based” and “100 percent plant,” has been +60 percent from 2012-2016.

There has also been a 55 percent average annual growth for new food and beverage launches tracked with vegan positioning in Europe (CAGR, 2013-2017). In 2017, 12 percent of all new food and beverage launches tracked with vegan positioning are snacks.

Between 2013 and 2017, the number of ready meals launches tracked with vegan positioning globally show an average annual growth rate of 58 percent (CAGR, 2013-2017).

According to The Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK has doubled twice in the past four years: from up to 150,000 in 2014 to 276,000 in 2016, and then to 600,000 in 2018.

The Vegan Society believes much more can be done to answer the needs of this consumer group. 

Dominika Piasecka, a spokesperson for The Vegan Society, tells FoodIngredientsFirst: “Our campaign is aimed at improving ready-made vegan options in high street supermarkets and on trains. It has been created to bring attention to the growing demand for vegan options, and to highlight to businesses that this is a market trend which is here to stay and that they are currently missing out by not catering for us.”

“When we polled our audience, 91 percent of vegans said they sometimes struggled to find vegan options when they are out and about. The plant-based market is set to grow hugely over the next few years and we want to ensure leading food providers are aware of this surge and are meeting the demand.”

An earlier phase of the “Vegan on the Go” campaign targeted high street retailers to improve their ready-made vegan convenience food options, which resulted in a considerable rise in vegan wraps, sandwiches and ready meals on offer.

“We are now planning further phases to target other retailers in the travel sector,” claims Piasecka.

“Veganism has come a long way and food options for vegans have got so much better, particularly over the last few years, but we still have to plan in advance where to pick up lunch and this campaign aims to change that,” she explains.  

“The image of veganism is undergoing the most radical change in its history while shedding some tired, old stereotypes. People now closely associate it with health, fitness and wellbeing. It is no longer portrayed as an unusual lifestyle – it’s easy and accessible – you can walk into any supermarket and be greeted by a huge range of vegan-friendly products or walk into any restaurant and be presented with an exciting vegan menu. There has never been a better time to be vegan,” notes Piasecka.

There is much evidence to suggest that there is plenty of choice for vegan and vegetarian consumers. However, earlier this week, new research revealed that almost half of vegans and a quarter of vegetarians are still dissatisfied with the choice of food products available to them, new research has shown. 

Commissioned by Ingredient Communications, Surveygoo conducted an online survey of 1,000 consumers (500 each in the UK and US). 

Despite vegetarianism and veganism becoming more mainstream, almost half the vegans surveyed (46 percent) said they were dissatisfied with the choice of suitable food options available to them. Dissatisfaction with product choice was particularly high in the US, where 50 percent of vegans said they were not happy with the options available to them, versus 36 percent in the UK. 

You can read NutritionInsights' coverage here.

By Elizabeth Green

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