05 Sep 2019

2019 has been the year for plant-based products, with major businesses embracing a new flexitarian customer who wants to cut meat from their diet, either to help the environment or due to animal welfare concerns. The Guardian reports that businesses who've actively embraced this new consumer has seen an increase in sales across their product range.

In an interesting effect from the plant-based revolution, major brands are noticing that their overall business has witnessed a 'halo' effect from introducing vegan offers to their menus: sales across their range have increased.

Greggs, who launched a vegan Quorn-based sausage roll to great fanfare earlier this year are one of the brands who've seen this benefit. Their CEO Roger Whiteside explains, “We thought it might only last a few weeks. But it was selling out within minutes of arriving in the shops. And what was interesting about it was it had a sort of double effect. People arrived looking for that product. But once they were in Greggs they saw what else we did.”

Greggs now intends to introduce vegan offerings to match many of the meat-based on-the-go items it sells.

John Clark of Coley Porter Bell, a branding agency that works with companies including Nestlé, Unilever and Tesco explains why the public perception of vegan products and brands has changed, “It used to be that healthiness was associated with going without. If you look at old Weight Watchers branding, it was often pale and minimalist. Now, health is much more associated with balanced diet. It’s wholesome, vibrant, fun. A lot of the vegan brands pull on that. They’re very colourful now.”

Although only 1% of Britons are vegan, the Guardian suggests that a change in mindset has occurred where eating plant-based is something to aspire to rather than an all-or-nothing proposition. This is what has led to such a huge increase in 'flexitarianism' among the public.

However, Clark reminds producers that they need to be focusing on quality and coming up with products that rival the taste of non-vegan items, saying, “You will quickly get a backlash if people think you’re ‘greenwashing’. Token efforts tend to get a lot of flak on social media. And if it just doesn’t taste very good, it won’t work, either.”