Vegan State

1st March 2019

Vegan state by Glynn Davis

For a business best known for its steak slice and traditional sausage rolls, it has been a remarkable turn of events this past couple of months for bakery chain Greggs. Its launch of a vegan sausage roll as part of the Veganuary trend has helped the company enjoy what it describes as an “exceptionally strong start” to the current year.

There is no doubt Greggs was jumping on the vegan bandwagon when it pitched such a product to the growing number of people adopting a vegan diet or flexitarian approach but with a bit of celebrity recognition, demand for its Quorn-based vegan sausage roll went off the charts.

It was originally launched in 950 stores on 3 January but such was the public’s appetite it was quickly rolled out to 250 more stores per week and will be in 1,950 locations this month. The vegan sausage roll certainly helped put some wind into Greggs’ share price and it rose to a record high of about £18 on the back of the group’s overall strong trading performance.

If Greggs can get a bounce from the growth in vegan food I’d argue anyone can and, in reality, every foodservice company is giving it a go in some form or other. The number of vegan restaurants in the UK has risen 55% in the past year to 48, according to the Local Data Company, which found it’s not just a London-based phenomenon. Yes, 18 are located in the capital but the other 30 are spread far and wide, with Yorkshire and Humber having the second highest concentration with 12 outlets.

Further evidence of the momentum behind veganism can be seen in the level of new product development (NPD) surrounding vegan products in the UK. Almost one-fifth (16%) of food products launched in 2018 had a vegan or no-animal ingredients claim, double the figure in 2015. This compares with a much lesser 9% for food products launched across Europe as a whole, which ensured the UK toppled Germany as the top dog for NPD of vegan foodstuffs last year.

It is likely many of these vegan products would have been launched previously as regular food items but in the current frenzied move towards veganism we have producers and foodservice companies recognising the potential of overtly marketing them as vegan products.

Consider technology firm Spoon Guru, which combines artificial intelligence data processing and optimisation capabilities with customer insight and nutritional advice to create dietary tags. With these it can classify food products. When it did this across Tesco’s entire range, it found its vegan range (products overtly branded as such) consisting of a mere 162 items immediately leapt to 16,000 items.

From this we can say a lot more food items and dishes in restaurants are vegan than previously thought, but this has not necessarily been highlighted and certainly not promoted as such. However, there is now a gung-ho rush to add the vegan label in an overt manner and for restaurants to promote their stance in a righteous way. This has worryingly resulted in fall out for some operators deemed not to be fully on board.

William Sitwell lost his job as editor of Waitrose Food magazine for his rather ham-fisted (pun intended) attempt at humour when he responded to a freelance journalist’s pitch for features on plant-based recipes with the suggestion for a series on killing vegans one-by-one instead. There has also been a worrying rise in the number of protests from what are being described as “vegan activists”. Direct Action Everywhere is a group that has held protests outside meat-focused restaurants and disrupted diners’ meals.

It would be a great shame if the positive moves by a growing number of people towards adopting a more healthy and planet friendly diet were hijacked by aggressive groups hell-bent on attacking animal products in all its forms. It would be just as sad if they were hoodwinked into paying more for a vegetarian chilli, for example, on the grounds it was suddenly rebranded “vegan” by cynical companies which, unlike Greggs, aren’t positively developing the vegan category.

Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends

To receive emails from us and keep up to date with the latest jobs and industry news, please complete the short form below.  We will never share your email with any third parties.

(*) required fields

1. Providing Visitors with Anonymous Access

You can access our Web site home page and browse our site without disclosing your personal data.

2. The services and links of our Web site

2.1 Our Web site does not enable our visitors to communicate with other visitors or to post information to be accessed by others.

2.2 Our Web site does not include links to third party Web service providers.

3. Automatic Collection of Information

3.1 We do not automatically log personal data.

3.2 We do not link information automatically logged by other means with personal data about specific individuals.

3.3 We use cookies to store personal data or we link information stored in cookies with personal data about specific individuals. We do so for the following purposes: * Technical administration of the Web site.

4. Data Collection and Purpose Specification

4.1 We do not collect any personal data from our visitors when they use our services.

4.2 We do not collect information about our visitors from other sources, such as public records or bodies, or private organisations. To access the table of personal data collected and purposes for which they are used, please click here

4.3 We do not collect or use personal data for any purpose other than that indicated in the table below.

4.4 If we wish to use your personal data for a new purpose, we offer you the means to consent to this new purpose: by indicating in one of our contact/data capture forms, where personal data is collected

5. Children’s Privacy

5.1 We do not knowingly collect personal data from children.

5.2 We do not take specific steps to protect the privacy of children who disclose their personal data to us.

5.3 We do not provide information about our personal data practices in relation to children on our homepage, or at those sites on our Web site where we collect personal data.

6. Disclosure and Visitor Choice

We do not disclose your personal data to our subsidiaries or other organisations.

7. Confidentiality / Security

7.1 We do not give visitors to our Web site the option of using a secure transmission method to send us their personal data.

7.2 We have implemented security policies, rules and technical measures to protect the personal data that we have under our control from:

(a) unauthorised access; or
(b) improper use or disclosure; or
(c) unauthorised modification; or
(d) unlawful destruction; or
(e) accidental loss.

7.3 All our employees and data processors, who have access to, and are associated with the processing of personal data, are obliged to respect the confidentiality of our visitors\’ personal data.

7.4 We ensure that your personal data will not be disclosed to State institutions and authorities except if required by law or other statutory regulation.

8. Privacy Compliance

8.1 There are no national laws or self-regulatory schemes applicable to our web site or organisation.

8.2 There are no global or regional regulatory or self-regulatory schemes applicable to our web site or organisation.

9. Privacy Support

9.1 If you have an enquiry or concern about our privacy policy, please contact: Recruitment Room on 0113 322 0660 or Email address: contact@therecruitmentroom.co.uk

9.2 We do not provide any other means by which visitors’ concerns may be addressed.