Veganuary takes hold: Companies and consumers expected to embrace plant-based eating in 2023
02 Jan 2023 --- A decade after the first Veganuary in 2014, businesses are building into the one-month vegan trend with special holiday NPDs. Last year’s campaign attracted 1,560 new plant-based products and menu items, according to the Veganuary organizers, with participants from almost every country in the world signing the 31-day vegan pledge.
According to an Innova Market Insights trends survey for 2023 – which considers an average of shoppers’ views from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US – consumers are attracted to plant-based alternative foods because they deem them healthier, better for the planet and help them bring variety to their diets.
The health of the planet, which consumers rank as the second most important reason for embracing plant-based foods, overtook diet variety already in 2022 and has consolidated its position as the most important reason for consumers after their health.
However, the global market value and volume of meat substitutes forecast growth is showing some signs of a slowdown amid a rough macroeconomic environment, with a predicted growth this year of 7% – compared to past gains in the double digits of 14% in 2018.
While slowing down, the segment is still growing, and no company wants to miss the opportunity to increase sales and capture customers’ attention.
Burger King is launching its Bakon King range this month using Violife’s vegan cheese and bacon.
“The extension of our plant-based offer reflects our ongoing commitment to serve a diverse and innovative range of products, whilst aiming to reach a 50% meat-free menu by 2030,” says Katie Evans, chief marketing officer of Burger King UK.
McDonald’s UK & Ireland will double down its use of Beyond Meat burgers, serving two patties in its Double McPlant offering. Beyond Meat will also be present in Starbucks’ vegan breakfast sandwich offering. The coffee chain is also offering vegan bakery treats, sandwiches, chocolate and snacks on its menu this January.
Meanwhile, Heinz is unveiling plant-based canned beans and sausages and a cream of tomato soup, which according to brand manager Manel Jordão “have been in the making for several years.”
Supermarket chain Aldi is multiplying its plant-based range for Veganuary, with the stores in the UK offering 110 vegan products. The company is launching eight meat substitutes – of pork, chicken, beef and duck – and three alternative seafood offerings.
Similarly, Waitrose is also bringing vegan products for Veganuary, with the retailer launching Heura’s plant-based chorizo in 200 stores. Morrison’s is unveiling plant-based chicken from Tindle this Veganuary.
Impact of Veganuary
The organizers of the month-long campaign say that during the 31 days, 207,680 metric tons of CO2 are saved, the equivalent of 2.4 million flights from London to Paris. Furthermore, 6.7 million animals are spared and 12.4 million liters of water are saved.
According to data from the Veganuary organizers, 83% of participants who were not vegan when they signed up for the challenge permanently stayed vegan or halved their intake of animal sourced products.
Notably, four out of 10 consumers are flexitarian and moderate in their meat intake.
Meanwhile, a new way of eating, what US Natural Grocers coins “regenivores,” is trending. The supermarket chain explains that a “regenivore” makes food choices that support their own health and the planet’s health.
A YouGov poll has revealed that 71% of UK adults have heard of Veganuary and 9% have participated. Of the participants, 31% were vegetarian and 12% vegan when they first took part.
“After signing up for the Veganuary pledge, 23% of non-vegan participants became vegan, 43% reduced their animal product consumption by at least half (but not completely), and a further 20% reduced by between a quarter and a half,” explain the event organizers.
“I became vegan as a New Year’s resolution in 1992, so I think taking part in Veganuary is the perfect opportunity for people concerned about the climate crisis, animal welfare or their health to try veganism. It’s much easier now than it was in 1992,” says Kerry McCarthy, member of the UK parliament.
“No matter what your past habits or family traditions might have been, you always have the power to choose to eat healthier. You can incorporate foods that tie into your heritage while reinventing comfort food the way it was always intended: as healing for the mind, body and soul,” explains Eric Adams, New York City mayor and Veganuary participant.
Roadblocks for plant-based?
Answering Innova Market Insights’ question, “why would you not consider buying plant-based alternatives,” consumers revealed that they consider taste and texture the first issue, followed by price/value for money and concerns on products being too processed and having too many artificial ingredients.
The market researcher, in its fourth top trend for 2023, Plant-Based: Unlocking a New Narrative, describes how plant-based has hit some roadblocks, which businesses have to work around, and refocus on consumer demands for high-quality and flavorful products.
In a November report, Innova Market Insights said, “for every consumer who believes [plant-based] alternatives taste better, there are slightly more who think that they taste worse.”
Consumers believe product development should be driven mostly by health (41%), followed by affordability (30%) and naturalness (28%), according to the market researcher.
Innova Market Insights also reveals that consumers are expectant of new technologies enhancing taste, nutritional value, digestibility, lowering environmental impact and products mimicking the texture of regular meat.
By Marc Cervera
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