Exploring the impact of Veganuary

2 March, 2020
Alex Demetriou

Accordingly to Veganuary.com, more than 400,000 people took part in its annual campaign to remove all meat and dairy products from their diet for the month of January.

Veganuary has been a very powerful marketing tool, harnessing people’s interest in trying new foods, while adopting a healthier approach and lifestyle. Restaurants up and down the country have been offering more vegan-inspired dishes and full vegan menus than ever before, catering for those who either want to try something new, or are looking into flexitarian options.

High street food operators maximise opportunity

In January, we saw many of the popular high street food operators with their Vegan specials; Greggs’ latest Vegan Steak Bake, Subway’s Meatless Meatball Marinara Melt and McDonald’s Veggie Dippers. Supermarkets with increased deals on fruit and veg and extended plant-based ranges; Asda and Co-op both launched their first plant-based own label ranges, with Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose all expanding their existing vegan ranges and pubs and restaurants opting for numerous vegan options on their menus, some for the first time.

High percentage of vegan new product launches

Despite only 2% of us choosing to follow a vegan diet, almost a quarter of food products launched last year contained no meat or dairy products and this is a marked change for the British food industry. The growth in vegan products is a direct response to the number of people who are simply choosing to eat meat less frequently and are substituting with plant-based alternatives.

What our clients say…

Here at Regency Purchasing Group, we support more than 3,000 businesses across the UK and specialise in sourcing produce from various markets, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. We regularly speak to clients about growing trends across all aspects of the food and drink industry, so we decided to delve a bit deeper into the impact of Veganuary…

The Old Thatched Cottage, a family-run restaurant in Weston super Mare, Somerset, saw the sales of its vegan dishes double in January 2020, compared to December 2019.

Julia Grobicka, told us, “Whilst there are only a small number of true vegans in the area, we have seen regular customers who would often eat steak try some of the vegan items on the menu. We also find that vegans tend to be the influencers when groups decide where they are going to eat, so offering quality vegan meals has really paid off for us.”

Fin & Bone, a Sheffield based restaurant with historically no vegetarian or vegan options, was pleasantly surprised by the popularity of its vegan special during January. Owner-operator, Jimmy, introduced a plant-based ‘Moving Mountains’ burger topped with smashed avocado, spring onion, salad and ginger & chilli ketchup as a way of exploring the growing vegan market.

The trial was very successful, with the burger becoming his 6th highest selling item, although this may be due to the introductory special offer making it cheaper than alternatives. Regardless, Jimmy will continue to sell the vegan burger, saying: “It will be staying on (the menu) – feels like we sold about a million of them!”

Final word

For pubs, restaurants and other food operators offering a vegan menu this means there is more margin to be achieved, as the protein element of any dish tends to offer the highest cost on the plate.

Our food service operators and restaurant customers are reporting overwhelmingly positive sales of vegan dishes, and the general trend is showing increased margins. Certainly a welcome boost for the sector.

Established in 1988 and headquartered in Somerset, Regency Purchasing Group provides comprehensive procurement solutions for the leisure, education, hospitality and healthcare industries and boasts over 3,000 members. Regency offers a bespoke service tailored to the needs of its customers, providing some of the most competitive pricing on the market through its strong relationships with key suppliers. Regency prides itself on providing keen industry insight, unrivalled service and technology solutions, and is in a unique position as an owner operator of its own leisure, restaurant and hotel businesses.

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