The vegan stampede

Make the most of the popularity of a vegan diet, particularly among Millennials

"The vegan market tracks better than anything on longevity, health and lower cases of disease.”

A vegan blogger? A plant-based diet enthusiast? No, it was a top chef who still eats meat. Jamie Oliver, who has recently studied for a masters degree in nutrition, was quoted in the Sunday Times Magazine in which he also said: “Vegans annoy me.”

Over in the main paper a couple of weeks earlier, authoritative commentator Bryan Appleyard wrote extensively about “a stampede to veganism driven by health, animal welfare and environmental fears”. He quoted Vegan Society figures that show sales of Vegan food increased by 1,500% last year, while there are well over half a million vegans in the UK, 42% of them under 34. He referenced recent TV documentaries and, while questioning some of the science, concluded: “Meat is on the run and close behind is dairy.”

Health food retailers could and should make the most of this surge in vegan popularity and are being given the tools to do so. Just around the corner is the UK’s first dedicated vegan trade show, Vegfest Trade at London Olympia on October 20, the day before the two-day extravaganza at the same venue.

Then there’s the increasingly popular Veganuary, a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year. The organisers offer panel discussions and advice on how businesses can make the most of the Veganuary fever and not only increase their sales of vegan products as a result, but also keep their vegan customers coming back for more. See veganuary.com.

VegfestUK Trade consists of up to 160 stalls, alongside six featured areas with different focus on running vegan businesses – the Vegan Business Support lounge, the Plant-Based Chefs Corner, the Vegan Health Clinic, the Vegan Celebrity Zone, the Independent Retailers Lounge and the Vegan Bodycare Pavilion.

Brands that have confirmed to be attending include independent vegan businesses such as Tyne Chease, Buddha Beauty, Badgers Dairy Free, The Raw Fix, and Watts Kork, alongside established brands like The Health Store, Suma Wholefoods, Bute Island Foods, JASON Natural Care, So Free Chocolate and Moo Free Chocolates, giving rise to a unique variety of brands for potential buyers at a Trade event.

Industry experts who will be present include representatives from Essential Trading and Veganuary, chef and radio host Aldo Zilli, head chef Ben Asamani of 222 Veggie Vegan, physician Dr. Milton Mills, nutritionist Gareth Zeal, chef and author Christine Bailey, MP Kerry McCarthy plus many more.

The Independent Retailers Lounge will provide plenty of tips for retailers on identifying the hottest items on the vegan market right now, avoiding potential pitfalls in catering to customers seeking clarity on the vegan criteria, and also increasing their sales of vegan products after the event.

Vegfest Trade is open for free registration at www.trade.vegfest.co.uk/registration

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