trolley
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Plant-based profit: lucrative low-risk product ranges

(2 min read)

Executive Summary

73% of plant-based products are purchased by omnivores and flexitarians, with plant-based demand growing across all categories. Retailers need to stay ahead of the curve if they want to retain their increasingly health-conscious and environmentally minded consumers.[1]

ProVeg has identified nine key steps that retailers can take to meet demand while minimising the risk of wastage:

For flexitarians and omnivores:

  • Provide plant-based imitations of traditional products in order to ensure broad appeal.
  • Focus on indulgence – choose high-quality plant-based brands.
  • Get V-label certifications – this will increase the health appeal of legacy baked products that are ‘accidentally vegan’ and which can drive reducetarian sales.

For health-conscious consumers:

  • Expand your plant-based snack range – they’re typically healthier, with natural ingredients and clean labels.
  • Offset losses from the legal restriction on ‘unhealthy’ promotions by promoting healthier plant-based snacks at point-of-sale, aisle ends, and online.
  • Pass on cost savings to consumers by stocking plant-based snacks – in some regions they qualify as ‘health foods’, which reduces the rate of sales tax.

Minimise wastage:

  • Frozen aisles – stock more alternative proteins and plant-based desserts. 70% of plant-based frozen-aisle shoppers are flexitarian or mixed eaters, so the demand is there.
  • Ambient aisles – grow your shelf-stable vegan range in order to satisfy the growing demand for both long-life and plant-based products.
  • Veganise your in-house bakery products – they’re often just one ingredient away from being plant-based.

Introduction

Are you hesitant about stocking more plant-based products? In this whitepaper, we’ll discuss the low-risk, high-reward categories in plant-based retail. You’ll come away with:

  • 10 actionable strategies to increase your plant-based revenue
  • Clarity about the relevance of plant-based products for mainstream consumers
  • Detailed case studies to illustrate your new strategies

Why does plant-based revenue matter?

Demand for plant-based alternatives has never been higher. With up to 40% of European consumers now actively reducing their meat and dairy intake,[2] retailers need to keep expanding their plant-based ranges to meet the market’s evolving needs.

For the majority of consumers, personal health is a key motivator for embracing a plant-rich diet.[3] “Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a continued shift in consumer purchasing toward natural and organic products that enhance health and immunity,” explains Tony Olson, founder of SPINS, a global nutrition data agency.[4] (We’ll explore how retailers can meet these growing consumer needs in our ‘health snacks’ section below.)

plant-based vs total food sales graph
Plant-based sales continued to grow even after the pandemic panic-buying spike, signalling longer-term increases in demand.[5]

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation calculates that animal agriculture accounts for around 15% of global emissions,[6] with 80% of meat and dairy products consumed in the Global North. Expanding your plant-based range can help your organisation to reduce its food-related emissions by up to 50% – a huge step towards your sustainability goals.[7] You’ll also be reducing the risk of future global pandemics, which has repeatedly been linked to the consumption of animal-based products.[8][9]

What do consumers want?

Imitation: a powerful cross-category rule

Almost two-thirds of consumers prefer products that are similar to foods they already know.[10] Yet, at the same time, many consumers are seeking to reduce their meat and dairy intake. This creates a natural opportunity for plant-based alternatives to satisfy consumers’ traditional taste and texture needs, while also meeting their modern preferences for healthier and more sustainable foods.

graph of motivation
Health is the main motivation for people reducing their intake of animal-based products. Other drivers include combating climate change and animal welfare.[11]
percent of consumers indicating why they are trying to reduce meat consumption
Health is the main motivation for people reducing their intake of animal-based products. Other drivers include combating climate change and animal welfare.[12]

Regardless of their motivations for turning to plant-rich diets, consumers still want access to the kinds of tasty, indulgent foods they’re accustomed to. Imitation products can fulfil this dual desire by satisfying traditional expectations alongside modern preferences. They also represent a lower risk for retailers since market demand is well established. 

The fact that between a third and half of Western consumers are actively reducing their consumption of animal-based products, and are now routinely buying plant-based alternatives, signals that the alternative protein/plant-based sector has reached a major milestone. We’re leaving the ‘early adopter’ stage, and successfully entering the ‘early majority’ phase of the innovation curve. 

This is significant, because the larger, latter group requires different treatment. As food consultant Jack Bobo explains, “[the early majority] are the traditionally-minded people who like things they’re familiar with”. Hence the importance of imitation products. “Find what [flexitarians] love, and match the product as closely as possible,” agrees Heather Mills, founder of VBites, discussing the best retail opportunities for plant-based products.[13]

diffusion of innovation curve
Plant-based alternatives are entering the ‘early majority’ phase, bringing together different consumer needs and a vastly expanded market [14]

We’re prioritising ‘versatility and familiarity’ in our alternative-meat products,”

MJ Kinney

X-Prize alternative-protein expert

X-Prize is investing $100m in alternative proteins to ‘Feed the Next Billion’. They recognise that familiarity is a key obstacle for consumers, and that plant-based alternatives offer a great solution.

Fortunately, a ton of such products are already available on the market. According to a product manager at Doehler, high-indulgence imitation products have been the catalyst for the explosive demand in plant-based products. “All the market intelligence shows that all categories of plant-based products have outperformed predictions since 2017, in terms of growth,” he explained.

When it comes to expanding your plant-based range, focus on products that create a familiar and indulgent taste-and-texture experience. Secondarily, you can highlight the health benefits of plant-based products, like increased fibre. For more guidance on how to communicate the taste and health benefits of plant-based products, check out our white paper ‘5 marketing fails to avoid with plant-based foods’.

plant-based brands assortment
Best picnic ever. [15]

Action

Meet flexitarians’ needs by providing plant-based imitations of the traditional products they’re used to. Focus on indulgence first (great taste and texture).

Top 4 categories to expand your plant-based profits

Whether you’re a newcomer to plant-based retail or a market leader, there are still heaps of low-risk, high-reward opportunities to seize. Most retailers are now aiming to become a ‘one-stop shop’ for anyone seeking a plant-based or plant-rich diet, and we’re here to help you maximise the opportunity – with minimal risk of wastage.

In the remainder of this white paper, ProVeg will help take the guesswork out of profitably expanding your plant-based ranges.

Using insights from our quantitative and qualitative research, we’ve identified four main product categories you should prioritise. We’ll take you through the best ways to expand your plant-based ranges in:

  • Ambient long-life/shelf-stable
  • Snacks
  • Frozen
  • Baked goods

Let’s go!

ProVeg Tips

ProVeg works with companies along the entire value chain, which gives us unique insights into the key challenges, hurdles, and opportunities for plant-based foods. As a leading NGO in the alternative-protein space, we provide objective advice and expert consulting services. We can help you harness the power and profitability of the shift to plant-based eating in the most appropriate and effective way for your business. Drop us a line at [email protected].

Ambient allure

Shelf-stable products have risen in popularity on a massive scale since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,[16] as has the demand for plant-based products.[17] Just like Batman and Robin, Mac and Cheese, Beyonce and Jay-Z, plant-based and shelf-stable have joined the league of power couples. Retailers can now leverage the popularity of this new combination to expand their plant-based ranges with very little risk.

Infographic Cook From Scratch
Sales of shelf-stable foods increased during Europe’s first lockdowns, leading to new consumer habits and visually-stimulating graphs coloured in grey.[18]

Case Study: retail giant launches shelf-stable vegan range

In 2020, Asda became the first major retailer in the UK to launch a shelf-stable plant-based aisle – in all of its 359 stores. The aisles feature a sweet and a savoury stack and include over a hundred products, including private-label options. The move was a direct response to their own survey data, which found that 17% of UK households are actively reducing or eliminating animal-based products from their diets. They also found a 275% increase in searches for vegan products on asda.com from 2019-2020.[19]

food shelves supermarket
Asda launched shelf-stable plant-based aisles across its 359 UK stores. We’re planning a ProVeg roadtrip to visit them all – as soon as we can agree on a playlist for the car… [20]

We understand that customers want a quick and simple shopping experience, and this shouldn’t be restricted by dietary requirements,”

Sarah Thornewill

Asda’s Buying Manager, explaining their decision to champion shelf-stable plant-based products.[21]

ProVeg works with major retailers across Europe to help them optimise their plant-based revenues. Check out our full corporate service catalogue for more.

Brands embracing ambient plant-based products

Thanks to increased consumer demand for both plant-based and long-life products, there’s been a huge increase in the number of shelf-stable vegan products that are available to retailers.

For instance, plant-milk company Mooala launched a long-life range in direct response to changing consumer behaviour.

Traditionally, the idea of purchasing milk online or in the dry section of a grocery store turns people off. But 2020 has really changed the consumer perception of goods in these formats […] we’re able to delight our customers with the same amazing organic ingredients in a non-perishable package,”

Jeff Richards

Mooala CEO[22]

Moola milks
In response to new consumer demand, Mooala launched shelf-stable versions of their popular chilled plant-milks. We’re hoping they launch cuddly toys next, because those koala-cows look adorable. [23]

Plant-based brand Howl also entered the ambient market in 2020 with their first product – the first shelf-stable vegan mac and cheese to be sold in US retailers. As well as meeting demand for shelf-stable plant-based foods, Howl’s premium product also addresses consumer desires for healthier alternatives.

Howl Mac and Chef products
Shelf-stable plant-based products can attract health-conscious consumers. Howl’s Mac & Chef has 50% less fat, two and a half times the protein of conventional recipes, and no chemical preservatives. [24]

Meat substitutes are also being produced in shelf-stable forms – while paying attention to consumers’ health concerns. Plant Boss launched their organic, long-life pea-based meat in US retailers in 2021. Their range uses locally sourced ingredients to create a product that is non-GMO, soya-free, and gluten-free. Shelf-stable and clean label. Neat.

Plant Boss Taco
Tacos, lasagne, and other familiar favourites are available in long-life plant-based formats. [25]

There are hundreds of new plant-based products being launched each year,[26] and many of them are shelf-stable. By expanding your long-life vegan range, you can satisfy consumer demand for durable, convenient, tasty, and healthier plant-based foods, all without risking spoilage.

Action

Use the shelf-stable aisles to safely grow your plant-based ranges. Prioritise clean-label products to win over health-conscious consumers.

ProVeg Tips

For expert advice on sizing your market segments and embracing white spaces in the plant-based sector, please give us a shout. ProVeg has extensive knowledge of the sector in Europe. We can conduct tailored research and analysis in order to generate key insights and recommendations for your business, and help connect you with the best plant-based suppliers to meet your needs. Contact [email protected] for more.

Snacking sensations

People love snacking – but they also want to be healthier. Plant-based snacks are a lucrative low-risk solution for retailers looking to satisfy consumer cravings.

The pandemic increased demand for snacks (aka ‘ready-to-eat’ products) among Western consumers – a behaviour that appears to have become a long-term habit. Snacking will continue to grow in popularity because “people have moved beyond the traditional three-meal plan to snacking all day,” explains Bryn Garcia, VP of Retail Sales at Select Harvest USA.[27] As part of this shift, global demand for ‘healthy’ snacks is rising fast.[28]

global market size of pnat-based snacks in US dollar graphs

Shoppers are increasingly turning to plant-based alternatives as the solution. As Vegconomist explains, “A rise in health problems and diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease have led consumers to choose healthier alternatives in the form of vegan snacks.”[29]The numbers back this up. The global plant-based snacks market is forecast to reach $73.61bn by the end of 2028 – that’s a doubling in value in ten years.[30]

There’s another reason for retailers to embrace plant-based snacks – coming soon in the form of legislation. The UK is banning retailer promotion of unhealthy foods from April 2022,[31] with similar discussions underway in the EU.[32] Restrictions will apply to all products which are high in fat, sugar, or salt – meaning promotions such as ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ will be prohibited on these items.

This has major implications for retailers, since the ban also extends to product placement. Unhealthy products will no longer be allowed in store entrances, aisle ends, and checkouts or their online equivalents. These locations are vital assets for retailers, boosting sales of things like soft drinks by over 50%.[33] “Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation,” explains UK Public Health Minister Jo Churchill.[34]

The opportunity: these new restrictions only apply to unhealthy products, meaning that there’s now an opportunity for retailers to promote profitable healthy alternatives instead.

According to food-retail expert Emma Trim, consumers generally “shop out of habit and expedience”, sticking to familiar aisles and products. Impulse purchases are the well-known exception to this rule, and they offer a great opportunity for retailers to introduce consumers to healthier plant-based snacks. Of all the ways to experience plant-based alternatives, impulse buys are uniquely low-risk and low friction, since “the customer is already behaving differently.”

For more best-practice tips on plant-based merchandising, download our white paper: ‘5 marketing fails to avoid with plant-based foods’.

For example, food producer Plant & Bean has a cost-focused R&D roadmap.[35] They actively leverage technology to develop more efficient plant-based proteins, with the explicit goal of reducing the costs of peas and beans by 50%.[36] Further savings come from their constant innovation of the protein-extraction process and from manufacturing at scale.[37] To help achieve these goals, they have a number of long-term partners, including Gushen,  a specialised ingredient manufacturer and supplier of premium non-genetically-modified soya protein. 

Case Study: salty snacks and the wisdom of jerky

IWON Organics (short for ‘I’m Winning On Nutrition’) is a health-focused snack brand that aims to provide a balanced nutritional profile in every snack. The company started out in 2016 with just one product – single-serving pea-protein chips – sold in the sports-supplement section of nutrition stores. Thanks to a swell in consumer appetite for healthier snacks, the company is growing rapidly, with an 150% growth forecast for 2022.[38]

IWON Organic’s products are designed to cater to health-conscious consumers. They’re organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, high in protein, and most of their flavours are vegan. Dreamy! Thanks to rising demand, they’ve expanded their range to include puffs and sticks, and have recently added cereal and granola clusters. Retailers such as Kroger and Safeway are now stocking them across the US, reflecting a mainstream consumer shift towards health-conscious snacking.

In 2018, animal-based food producer Urbani Foods made the decision to radically overhaul their product range and become entirely vegan – no small feat for a company known for its beef jerky. But the decision paid off. They launched their veganised range across Walmart Canada, with revenues increasing by 70% in 2020. This success has enabled them to expand into China, where they now retail at 36 Sam’s Club stores.[40]

Noble jerky
Jerky company goes vegan. Revenue increases 70%. A legend is born. [41]

If you’re looking to boost your plant-based category management, merchandising, or communications, ProVeg has you covered. We have extensive knowledge of flexitarian consumers in Europe and the US, from general preferences to specific consumer sentiments regarding particular product categories. Drop us a line at [email protected] and let’s help grow your success.

Expand your appeal – catering to eco-motivated consumers

Companies like Nu are taking the credentials of their plant-based products one step further –  by avoiding conventional plastic wrappers.

We knew plastic wasn’t an option for us, and so we went for compostable packaging,”

Christian Fenner

NU co-founder.(In an interview with ProVeg Incubator)

 By opting for eco-friendly packing, Nu is able to expand its appeal to reach consumers who are strongly motivated by environmental concerns. We’ll touch on this opportunity again in the next section.

You can hear our full conversation with Christian, as well as exclusive interviews with other founders and experts from across the plant-based sector, in the ProVeg Incubator podcast Meet the Food Innovators

numove range
Why cut down on treats when you can cut down on plastic instead? (Sssh – the ProVeg diet starts tomorrow.)[42]

Action:

Increase your plant-based-snack range in order to meet consumers’ growing demand for healthier snacks.

Ensure that your team is constantly up to date with the latest market developments in order to inform your future merchandising plans, product ranges, and new business opportunities. Sign up for the ProVeg B2B newsletter here.

Case Study: navigating taxes on snacks

Many plant-based snacks are positioning themselves as health products or protein supplements. This appeals to consumers while also reducing the product’s sales-tax rate in many countries. Retailers can, in turn, pass this benefit on to consumers through more attractive pricing, so it’s a mutual win.

However, plant-based does not automatically mean healthy – especially with regards to taxation. For example, Nouri, a London-based boutique vegan producer, rebranded their truffles as ‘Nouri Healthy Balls’ –  arguing that their all-natural ingredients made them a healthy alternative. Had the authorities accepted this, the applicable sales tax on their product would have dropped from 20% to 0%.


Unfortunately for Nouri, the UK authorities ruled that Nouri Healthy Balls were in fact a luxury sweet treat, and thus subject to the standard 20% rate. In a statement, HMRC said that “while the products are made with natural products which have some nutritional value, have no added sugar, and may have lower levels of fat and sugar than some brands of chocolate truffle which are undoubtedly confectionery, it is misleading to say that they are therefore healthy and, as the company seemed to argue, that, as they are healthy they cannot be confectionery.” [43]

As a retailer, you will of course want to stock a mixture of healthy snacks and indulgent treats. Just be sure to establish which of the two any given plant-based snack is, so that you can maximise the benefits for consumers.

Action:

Make your snacks more attractive to consumers by prioritising low-tax, healthy plant-based snacks at checkouts and other impulse-buy locations. Save the truly indulgent plant-based treats for the confectionary section. 

If you’re looking to attract more consumers seeking plant-based alternatives, we’re ready to help. V-Label, which ProVeg administers in Germany, South Africa, and Czechia, is an internationally recognised, registered certification seal for labelling vegan and vegetarian products that provides reliable purchasing guidance for consumers. Get in touch at [email protected].

Frozen

Frozen products are increasing in popularity. In Germany, sales of frozen plant-based meats grew from €0.5m 2018 to €12m in 2020.[45] The pandemic has further fuelled demand for frozen products, making increased purchases a long-term prospect for 50% of US consumers.[46]

dollar growth versus comparable week
After the COVID-19 panic-buying peak in 2019, sales of frozen products remain almost 35% up on the previous year (2018). [47]

Shoppers are turning towards frozen produce for better prices, better nutrition (preservation of vitamins and minerals), and to minimise their at-home wastage of fresh goods.[48]

The frozen section presents a great opportunity for plant-based retail. In fact, it’s where mainstream appeal is often the greatest for plant-based products. For example, European brand Dopsu found that 70% of their frozen vegan products are being bought by flexitarians.

Action:

Increase your frozen plant-based ranges in order to satisfy growing mainstream demand.

Case Study: Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s are world famous for their luxurious ice cream brand and its innovative flavours. When they launched three non-dairy products in 2017, it was a significant shift for them. It also made financial sense – they’re an ambitious global brand and they were probably aware that 75% of global consumers are lactose intolerant.[49] Plus 40% of Western consumers are cutting down on animal-based products anyway. So they weren’t short of financial incentives when it came to creating a plant-based range.


The brand has continued expanding their plant-based range and they now have 19 flavours on the US market, constituting about 25% of the company’s entire range.[50] This fits with their parent company Unilever’s broader plant-based expansion strategy and its aim of reaching €1bn annually in plant-based sales by 2027, a fivefold increase on their 2020 figures.[51]

ben and jerrys ice creams
Ben & Jerry’s grew their vegan range fivefold in under five years. That’s some tasty progress.[52]

Non-dairy fans deserve the same euphoric experience as our dairy fans. Whether you are choosing a non-dairy diet because of nutritional or ethical reasons, you don’t need to compromise on taste with our vegan flavors,”

Lindsay Bumps

Ben & Jerry’s PR representative[53]

Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice creams use a variety of bases, including almond milk and coconut milk, to achieve the creaminess that consumers are used to. But other companies have had equal success with other ice-cream bases, ranging from olive oil in Italy to cashew, soya, and hazelnut elsewhere, tailoring their products to local suppliers and tastes.

ben and jerry's ice cream
Just in case the first image didn’t make you want ice cream… [54]

In the EU and the UK, Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy range is certified by the V-Label, which ProVeg administers in Germany, South Africa, and Czechia. Globally, more than 40,000 products from more than 3,500 license holders now carry the V-Label, which is registered in 27 countries. With more than 25 years of experience labelling products, we are the frontrunners of a global movement. Talk to us to learn more about how you can use the V-Label to boost your plant-based sales – email [email protected].  

Sub-zero sustainability: a frozen bonus

The frozen section is also ideal for shoppers avoiding plastic since it lends itself to paper/card packaging. Many vegan brands are phasing out their use of plastic in order to become more sustainable, as well as to increase their appeal to flexitarians who are motivated by environmental concerns. “We’re going to change the packaging, going into more sustainable packaging made of paper cartons,” reveals Ankan Linden of Oumph!, explaining the changes his company  will be making during 2022.

Why all the fuss about packaging? Well, it’s where consumer behaviour is heading. A recent McKinsey study found that “55 percent of US survey respondents report that they are extremely or very concerned about the environmental impact of product packaging”, with similar results applying to European consumers.[55] Consumer demand for healthy, sustainably-packaged foods is set to continue growing, making plant-based frozen ranges a great retail opportunity. 

A significantly larger number of people want to buy from brands who are being sustainable,”

Joe Hill

Co-founder of One Plant Pizza

The numbers confirm this. A recent study found that a third of consumers are willing to pay more for products if they’re sustainable – with the average being a 25% premium for greener products.[56]

Frozen Case Study:  Oumph! meat alternatives

Oumph! is a plant-based meat brand that’s been focused on the frozen aisles from the start. Since launching in Sweden in 2015, Oumph! has scaled rapidly to meet the growing demand for long-life meat alternatives.

In Sweden, the frozen section is very popular because it’s low waste…I want the freezer to become sexy in the UK.”

Ankan Linden

Oumph! Founder

They’re clearly onto something – they now have six products, and are sold in 10 countries, including at major retailers such as Tesco and Lidl, as well as international restaurant chains. 

Oumph! kebab
Oumph’s new doner kebab is a winner. Literally. They keep picking up taste awards…[57]

By focusing on the frozen aisles, Oumph! have been able to prove their products’ popularity at low risk to retailers. As well as satisfying customer demand for great-tasting alternative proteins, this has helped all stakeholders to reduce their plastic and emissions footprints.

ProVeg Tips

Don’t overcrowd your shelves with multiple versions of the same product type. Aim for a broad range of high-quality products such as nuggets, burgers, schnitzels, strips, chunks, sausages, minces, and ready meals. Focus on meeting your consumers’ demand for taste, texture, price, and health benefits. For support in building an optimal plant-based range, and for data-driven insights on merchandising plant-based products in-store and online, talk to our international experts at [email protected]

Baked goods

Demand for vegan baked goods has risen sharply in recent years, with the market for vegan baking ingredients set to reach $1.6bn by 2025.[58] Yet consumer research by ProVeg found that the limited range of vegan baked goods is the greatest irritation for most customers seeking plant-based alternatives.[59]

why we need more plant-based bakery products graph
Consumers are happy with the price and taste of vegan baked products – they just want more choice. (That’s where you come in.) [60]

Additional research by ProVeg found that 73% of the growth in demand for plant-based baked products in Germany was being driven by omnivores and flexitarians – further proof  that the plant-based sector is not confined to vegans and vegetarians.[61]

Many baked goods, including traditional regional favourites such as pretzels, English muffins, and bagels, are already ‘accidentally vegan’. Key baked-goods brands such as Mr Kipling, Oreo, and Betty Crocker also feature ‘accidentally vegan’ formulations.

mr kipling
©Mr Kipling
Betty crocker fudge cake
©Betty Crocker
oreo
©Mondelez

Accidentally vegan, deliberately delicious. Anyone can do it!

Increasingly, retailers are also expanding their own-label vegan baked-goods ranges, e.g. in-store donuts at Coop and Asda in the UK. Making easy-win baked-goods products vegan is one way that retailers can meet both consumer demand and their own sustainability targets. For instance, making a chocolate brownie vegan is relatively straightforward because the texture is flat and eggs only play a binding role, meaning you only need the new plant ingredients to replace a single function.

Making a legacy product vegan is often also a way of reducing supply costs. As one ingredient manufacturer put it, “We do a range of glazes which can replace egg or milk in bakery products. Consumers select our products for convenience – being plant-based is often a bonus of choosing what’s efficient and cheapest anyway”.

ProVeg supported Dutch retailer Hema with veganising their classic apple pie recipe. The plant-based reboot was so popular that it sold out in the first week and earned national media coverage. Find out how other companies are maximising their plant-based revenue in our white paper: ‘Lessons learned from brands who veganised classic products’.

If you’re short on bandwidth and don’t have time to reformulate your recipes yet, that’s no problem – there are dozens of top-quality plant-based baked-goods brands who are ready to rock your retail range. Let’s take a peek.

Bakery Case Study: OGGS cakes

There’s high demand for quality vegan products, and the proof is in the OGGS puddings. OGGS is a UK-founded vegan baked-goods brand that launched its first products in 2019 (within 12 months of being founded. Speedy work.). They launched their egg-free plant-based cakes in two major UK retailers, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and sold half a million cakes in the first three months.[62]

The key to their success? Taste. 

If you’re going mainstream, you have to taste just as good as the alternative because you’re asking someone to make a switch – especially in a category like cake where people aren’t eating for health, they’re eating for pleasure.”

Lydia Stuart-Kregor

Category and Strategy Manager, OGGS

Oggs cakes
Ambient plant-based bakery products are in high demand. Maybe that’s why OGGS are building a cake tower. [63]

OGGS’ business grew by 54% in 2021, making them one of the UK’s largest vegan brands in just two years.[64] They’ve expanded their range to include baked snacks such as millionaire bites and brownie bites, and, thanks to an innovative social-media campaign that demonstrated the strength of the demand for their products, they’re now also stocked in over 500 Tesco stores across the UK.[65]

Action:

Retailers can meet growing consumer demand for plant-based baked products by:

  • Partnering with high-quality plant-based brands to deliver the indulgence consumers want from bakery products.
  • Veganising in-house ranges by replacing animal-based ingredients with functional (and more affordable) plant-based alternatives.
  • Certifying products that are ‘accidentally vegan’ with a V-Label in order to increase their appeal to reducetarians.

ProVeg’s One Ingredient team works with retailers and brands across Europe. We can help you with the conversion of existing products to plant-based formulations – including our expert tasting and analysis services, our expansive network of plant-based suppliers, and our expert V-Label team for certification. Let’s grow your plant-based range the smart way – reach out to us at [email protected].

Bonus tips: maximising your plant-based appeal

As we’ve discussed, consumers have a wide range of reasons for embracing plant-rich diets. This means that it’s beneficial for retailers to prioritise products and ranges that tick the maximum number of consumer boxes.

In the final two case studies, we’ll look at a brand that is maximising its appeal across consumer segments, plus a hybrid category that’s doing the same.

Case Study: Better Nature tempeh – an ambient alternative with eco credentials

In order to appeal to the widest possible range of consumers, plant-based products should focus on satisfying consumers’ desires for indulgence, followed by health and then the environment.[66]

As we saw in the snack and chilled categories, it’s possible for products to do all three. But the ambient aisle can be trickier because it’s harder to avoid plastic. Some brands, however, have found innovative solutions to this.

Better Nature makes organic, naturally-fermented tempeh as a versatile and planet-friendly alternative to animal-based meat. However, as an ambient product, it’s still reliant on plastic packaging for preservation. 

To mitigate this, Better Nature has committed to being plastic-negative. For every product sold, they pay for the removal of twice as much plastic from Indonesian waters. Their latest range is also carbon negative, and they communicate these benefits on their packaging.

better nature tempeh
Plastic negative packaging – the future of food? [67]

Action:

By partnering with environmentally conscious plant-based brands, retailers can:

  • reach eco-motivated reducetarians (increase your reach)
  • build wider consumer trust
  • meet sustainability goals
  • get ahead of environmental labelling laws

To stay up to date with plant-based retail trends, join the Proveg B2B mail list. If you’d like to have objective recommendations delivered straight to your inbox. You can sign up here.

Case Study: Chilled plant-based milk – long-life but fresh

Plant-based products don’t necessarily have to be shelf-stable for retailers to benefit from lower risk of wastage. Vegan milk alternatives are a great example of low-risk, high-reward products. Unlike chilled dairy milks, chilled plant-based milks can stay fresh on the shelves for weeks – greatly reducing the risk of wastage. 

image of plant-based milks
Chilled plant-milks: delicious, long-lasting, and low-risk. High visibility in retail has helped to grow consumer demand.[68]

The longevity of chilled plant-milks has enabled retailers to test consumer demand with lower levels of risk. This retailer experimentation has increased the visibility of dairy alternatives to mainstream consumers, which in turn has helped to increase consumer demand. 39% of households in the US now routinely buy plant-based milk.[69] It’s a virtuous cycle.

plant-based milk-US-growth graph
Demand for plant-based milk is continuing to grow in the US.

Availability, visibility, is key for the consumers – that’s what producers are working with retailers to achieve, to make the products more widely accessible.”

Corina Pasol

Associate Director, Secretariat of the European Plant-based Foods Association

Chilled plant-based milk is a great example of the integrated-segregated merchandising that ProVeg recommends. With this method, plant-based products are grouped together but positioned within the animal–based-product aisle. This makes it easy for flexitarian consumers to find and compare plant-based alternatives with conventional products. For more tips on plant-based merchandising, check out our white paper ‘For more best-practice tips on plant-based merchandising, download our white paper: ‘5 marketing fails to avoid with plant-based foods’.

Conclusion

Demand for plant-based foods is increasing across all categories – driven mainly by flexitarians and omnivores. Consumers are also becoming more motivated by health and sustainability, meaning that retailers urgently need to increase their plant-based ranges. 

To minimise the risk of wastage and increase the returns on your new plant-based ranges, ProVeg recommends that retailers focus on indulgent plant-based alternatives from high quality brands. Expanding your plant-based ranges in the frozen and ambient sections is a great way to reach flexitarians while minimising waste.

For classic bakery products that are already ‘accidentally vegan’, getting them V-label certified can increase their appeal and drive sales. Similarly, you can meet the demands of the growing health-snack sector by stocking more plant-based treats, which can be healthier than their conventional counterparts.

ProVeg works with companies along the entire value chain, which gives us unique insights into the key challenges, hurdles, and opportunities at every stage of plant-based retail. We provide expert advice to help you harness the power and profitability of plant-based products.

ProVeg Tips

If you’re looking to refine your vegan range, merchandising, or broader plant-based strategy, ProVeg has you covered. We have extensive knowledge of flexitarian consumers in Europe, the US, and beyond. Contact [email protected] and let’s work together.

Note: ProVeg conducts exclusive interviews with a wide range of industry professionals for its New Food Hub white papers. Unless an alternative citation is provided, quotations are from those interviews. Some interviewees wished to remain anonymous.

References

References
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