As the plant food movement is gathering pace, the vegetarian and vegan food categories have been given a whole new lease of life
There seems to be no stopping the vegetarian and vegan sector. In the UK alone, sales of meat-free products rose to nearly £660 million last year, with similar growth – around 7% – expected for 2015.
A recent report from Mintel shows that the number of food and drink products carrying a vegetarian claim doubled in the four years between 2009-2013.
Mintel estimates that around 12% of UK adults would describe themselves as vegetarian or vegan. 12% of 45 million is a decent demographic for anyone to work with, but as the rise of so-called ‘flexitarianism’ shows, meat-free foods appeal well beyond the full-time vegetarian and vegan community.
The fact that nearly half (48%) of Brits see meat-free products as being more environment-friendly and 52% identify them as being healthier is also helping to propel the category onwards and upwards.
But something more interesting has been happening to the category. It has been fragmenting into sub-categories and ‘mini-movements’. Even the major multiples have had to rethink how and where they position and present their vegetarian and vegan offer to extract the maximum value out of these seriously on-trend foods.
The multiples think vegetarianism has a problem. It’s name. Vegetarian, so the marketeers say, sounds old-fashioned and carries outdated connotations (for example, conjuring up memories of nut roasts and lentil burgers). That’s the thinking that led M&S to recently relaunch its entire vegetarian ready-meal range. Out went the dedicated vegetarian aisles, and – pretty much – out went the word vegetarian (certainly it appears much less prominently on pack). The logic is that this ‘normalizes’ the
vegetarian sector and potentially opens it up to a much bigger audience.
Brands too have been wrestling with which label best describes the category. Some use a variant of free-from, some choose ‘meat-free’, a growing number use ‘plant-based’. The one word no one thinks is old-fashioned or too difficult is vegan, or its feisty, young offspring raw vegan.
Veganism has travelled a very long way, from being the foodie equivalent of the awkward squad to being the epitome of culinary cool, and the choice of a whole host of celebrity A-listers. There are vegan festivals (just look at the Vegfest phenomenon), vegan cafés and clubs and several vegan magazines.
So how is that translating into sales in-store – and what trends are independent natural products retailers seeing in the ‘V&V’ sector?
Joe Jackson at Haselmere Health told us: “We’ve seen a big influx over the last few months of customers asking specifically for vegan products and ingredients – lots of interest in no-sugar and no-dairy diets. I think quite a bit of that is down to the success of books like Deliciously Ella, which seems to have captured the imagination of a lot of people. Ella Woodward created a diet, and then recipes, that address the inflammatory issues that are at the root of a lot of modern health problems – it’s really resonated with our customers.
“I think more broadly there’s a growing awareness of the health issues around dairy. Nutritionists often now urge people to cut down or avoid dairy altogether, so even if they don’t see themselves as vegans per se, they are increasingly making vegan choices. I’d say here, that less than 5% of the food and drink products we sell contain dairy.”
Whey on down
Jackson says that coconut oil continues to fly high, along with raw chocolate – “it’s massive”. He also singles out yeast flakes (such as Marigold’s Engevita) – used for sprinkling as a cheese alternative – for a special mention. Coyo vegan milk yoghurt is also a strong seller, he says, and Pana raw, vegan hand-made chocolate ticks a lot of boxes. Jackson has also noticed a swing towards vegan protein sources – “we’re seeing things like hemp protein on the up, and whey on the way down”.
Meanwhile, Haselmere Health’s owner, Dominic Upton, says he has been asked to set up a raw vegan shop at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. “I was slightly surprised, but really encouraged at the interest that raw vegan is now getting,” he says.
John Buxton, manager at Ryecorn Wholefoods in Brighouse, Yorkshire, says more of his customers see the word vegan – and even more the Vegan Society logo – as shorthand for ‘clean food’. “There are so many hidden ingredients in food, so it’s understandable that people are looking for clear signposting to honest, wholesome food.”
And Buxton is another retailer who’s spotted the rise of veganism. “Over the last 18 months in particular it’s been very noticeable that more people are specifically asking for vegan rather than vegetarian.” His store offers a good range of veggie and vegan foods. “Ready meals – curries in particular – are really popular, as are stocks, bouillon and ice cream. We do veggie and vegan sausages and cheeses too, but I draw the line at things like fake bacon. It’s so highly processed that it can’t have much nutritional value.”
Sally Marshall, groceries manager at Wild Oats in Bristol, tells a nice story about the changing attitudes to veganism. “When, at the age of 19, I announced that I had become a vegan, a friend of my dad’s commented: ‘Well, it could be worse, she could be on drugs’.”
Fast forward to 2015 and things have changed beyond recognition.
Marshall believes the raw vegan trend has been bringing a lot people over to veganism, pointing out that “a lot of things that are raw are also vegan.” But she also has a strong sense of a vegan movement returning. “I’ve noticed a resurgence in animal welfare reasons for choosing to be vegan, which is how I remember it. For the last ten or 15 years it’s seemed to be more health-motivated. It may well be to do with all the media coverage of factory farming, and places like Nocton. And then you’ve got chefs like Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall who like their meat and fish but who have also drawn attention to the terrible way many animals are kept.”
“The one word no one thinks is old-fashioned or too difficult is vegan, or its feisty, young offspring raw vegan”
Great way to share
Marshall also thinks that the ability for people to “live a whole vegan lifestyle” is now made easier by better nutritional understanding and the growing body of research that shows that a plant food-based diet is the healthiest. And, she says, it’s never been easier to communicate the benefits. “Social media has been a major factor in spreading the word. Many vegans are real foodies –
they love sharing recipes or hearing about a great new food product. That’s certainly what we’ve found with our own Facebook and blogging experience.”
In store, raw chocolate is a runaway success, as are raw cakes. Vegusto’s No Moo cheese comes recommended by Marshall – “It’s made with nuts and is minimally processed, which is a trend I think we see more of.” She likes the new chia desserts and says that vegan snacks and bars also sell well. “You can’t not mention coconut. It’s old news, I know, but it’s everywhere!”
Food Focus Listings
Following our reputation for innovative products Eskal Foods are delighted to highlight their new vegan Wafer Rolls. These light wafer ‘tubes’ are filled with a delicious diary free chocolate cream and are a tasty treat with Coffee or Ice Cream and maybe both! As well as being Vegan, they are Gluten, Wheat, and Dairy Free too. 12 rolls to a box, handily packed in two foil packs, 6 rolls to a pack, they are suitable for all age groups. A 120g packet has a recommended retail price of £2.60. Available through all good health food stores and other independent speciality food outlets.
Essential’s vitamin-packed Yeast Extract is a great choice for vegans and vegetarians, as it’s packed full of protein and valuable B vitamins. It ticks so many important boxes: healthy, 100% natural, nutrient dense, vegan, GMO-free. Essential’s Yeast Extract is low in salt (sodium) compared to most yeast extracts, and it is also gluten free as it is produced from the roots, not the grain, which is a key point of difference for customers who are gluten intolerant. Available in a compact 125g jar or 250g family size, plus an 150g certified-organic option, it has a mellow umami flavour that’s truly delicious.
Sunwarrior Classic Protein has long been a favourite protein choice for vegetarians and vegans. This Bio-fermented, Raw, Sprouted, Whole Grain, Brown Rice Protein is free from dairy, gluten, soy, and GMO’s. Phytonutrient-dense, vitamin and mineral-rich with all of the essential and non-essential amino acids, Sunwarrior has all the advantages of animal-based protein without placing stress on the cardio vascular or digestive system, making it the perfect alternative to animal-based protein in sports performance and recovery. Naturally flavoured or unflavoured, this hypo-allergenic formula is ideal for those who want to build muscle, lose fat and increase athletic performance or simply for all-round health. Best of all, it tastes great!
Iswari is proud to present 3 new Tropical flavours to its Buddha’s Awakening breakfast range: “Acai, Banana and Strawberry”, “Mango & Baobab”, and “Pineapple & Wheatgrass”. Each nutrient rich, raw superfood breakfast combines omega-packed milled Chia & Flax seeds, with coconut flour, buckwheat, fruit powders and Superfoods. They are rich in protein, easily digested, gluten-free and 100% organic! Furthermore, Each mix can be made in minutes, just by adding hot or cold water. Enlighten your morning with this tropical breakfast trio! For more info visit www.iswari.net or email: [email protected]
Amazing Grass Chocolate Raw Reserve is a blend of AFA’s (blue green algae), spirulina, chlorella, and sea vegetables from the coast of Maine, like kelp and sea lettuce, combined with nutrient-dense cereal grasses and 25 billion probiotics at the time of bottling. And with the addition of organic maca, burdock root, ginger, aloe vera, cayenne and organic flax and chia seed, Chocolate Protein Raw Reserve is a nutritious, vegan way to introduce free-radical fighting plants and herbs to the diet, plus 14 grams of non-soy plant-based protein. All Amazing Grass products are raw, vegan GMO- and gluten- free, and USDA and Ecocert certified organic. For more information visit kinetic4health.co.uk or call 08450 725 825
Protein Organic Food Bar contain 22 grams of easy-to-digest organic protein from Organic Almond Butter and a blend of Organic Pea and Organic Pumpkinseed. This bar is just right for Vegans and Vegetarians seeking more protein in their diets, and is also awesome for athletes who need to stave off muscle breakdown. Organic Food Bar source the finest ingredients purchased fresh every month, to handcraft their Organic Food Bar products, made in their own certified organic solar-powered facility. The bars are all USDA and Ecocert certified organic Vegan Certified, certified Gluten Free, non-GMO Project verified and kosher. For more information visit kinetic4health.co.uk or call 08450 725 825
Nutiva Coconut Manna is a delicious whole food, made of pure, dried coconut flesh. Certified organic and non-GMO, a tropical “melts in your mouth” treat that contains 12% fibre 9% protein and nourishing fats, and is trans-fat free. An ideal “everything” spread that can replace cream, cream cheese and butter, you can also use it in smoothies, sauces, dressings, desserts and baked goods for a delicious, naturally sweet coconut flavour. Certified Organic, GMO free, and made from fresh coconuts not copra. Nutiva are dedicated to changing the way the world eats and donate a portion of sales to sustainable agricultural movements. For more information visit kinetic4health.co.uk or call 08450 725 825
Packed with minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids, Rice Bran and Germ is an excellent whole food source of B vitamins, often lacking in vegetarian and vegan diets. Rice bran and germ are the polishings that are removed when brown rice is milled into white rice. Although the bran and germ make up just 8% of the kernel, they contain 65% of the nutritional value. Rice Bran and Germ has a delicious, naturally sweet and nutty taste that can be added to everything you eat. It also adds a creamy texture when mixed into warm beverages. RRP: £7.99 (200g)
As a 100% vegan-suitable product range, it was impossible for Terranova to provide D3. Eventually, Terranova ran across evidence of a new D3 extracted from lichen, and independently validated by Britain’s most esteemed analytical laboratory for nutritional compounds. As soon as this was put into a dry form that could be used in vegetarian capsules. D3 is advantageous over D2 for many reasons including – D3 has a much greater potency in terms of elevating and maintaining vitamin D levels in the body; D3 converts into the active form many times faster than D2; D3 stores much more efficiently than D2. For more information visit kinetic4health.co.uk or call 08450 725 825
The finest raw almonds, goji berries, golden berries, raisins & Styrian pumpkin seeds, operating undercover in smooth, thick raw chocolate. We’ve also added bio-live cultures to the antioxidant-rich chocolate to keep you feeling tip top ORGANIC * GLUTEN FREE * VEGAN * SOY FREE * REFINED SUGAR FREE * RAW RRP: £1.99-£2.49 (40g)
Suma is the UK’s largest independent supplier of wholefoods and ethical groceries, stocking a full range of ambient, chilled and frozen products which we deliver all over the UK and export all around the world. Suma is not run like a traditional business. It is workers co-operative, owned, managed, and run by its members. At Suma everybody gets paid the same amount, regardless of the job that they do, we are the largest single pay employer in Europe. The result is a unique company – uniquely managed, unique to work for, and for our customers, unique levels of customer service.
The Chia Co are the world’s leading producer of premium quality chia seed and chia products. Chia seeds are the highest combined plant source of omega-3, fibre and protein, offering essential nutrition often lacking in modern diets. One tablespoon of chia provides 3g of omega-3 ALA, 6g of fibre, and 3g of complete protein with all nine essential amino acids. With a neutral taste, chia can easily be added to smoothies, breads, baking, salads or soups. The Chia Co also provide chia in a range of convenient food products. Chia Pod is a healthy, dairy free breakfast or snack combining chia seeds with coconut milk and real fruit, while Oats+Chia combines chia with wholegrain oats, real fruit and coconut oil for warm, nutritious instant porridge – ready in 60 seconds.
“because Organico only works direct with growers and farmers who pack their own produce we are confident of the quality, provenance, traceability and food security. With pesto our choice was between cheap products where the basil grown in China is frozen or the real thing. The cheap product tastes terrible: you can easily tell it apart – it’s dark green and the oil separates. Our vegan pesto is made by a small Genovese faily business – it is raw and use only fresh ingredients. This pesto tastes just as it would if you had blended the ingredients yourself in the kitchen.”
Pulsin’ have just launched another addition to their award winning range of protein bars. The delicious Mint Choc Chip protein snack, with 12g of dairy free protein in a 50g serving to beat hunger. It combines pea and rice proteins, cashews, peppermint oil, and yummy chocolate chips sweetened with xylitol. This low sugar protein bar, available in a 50g and 25g bar has a fantastic taste. Great eaten in between meals or on the go as it is a nutritionally balanced bar which keeps blood sugar stable, but also an excellent post workout recovery bar.
With the recent addition of our fruity Berry Burst jellies, our Gelatine Free Sweet Range now comes in 9 fun flavours. From Cool Cola Bottles to Fizzy Sour Snakes, all are free from dairy; lactose; gluten and artificial colours & flavourings. These Vegan friendly treats are the perfect lunch box filler or satisfying sweet snack, not just for kids but for adults too! For the full range, visit us at www.biona.co.uk