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4 Vital Steps for a Successful Plant-Based Retail Rollout

Selfish Cow

US retail sales of plant-based foods alone grew by 6.2% in early 2021, reaching a total market value of $7.4 billion. 2 years on, reports that overall retail sales in plant-based have slowed.

Brands now face new challenges, including increased competition from competitors and retailers alike, who have heavily increased production of own-label products. These challenges have placed extra pressure on retail rollouts to be successful. But what dictates a company’s ability to make a splash in a demanding marketplace?

Read on to find out.

Step 1: Brand identity is everything

A genuine commitment to sustainability and equitable food security are the driving forces behind many independent plant-based brands. Unlike other markets, which are often driven by strategic gap-filling, plant-based manufacturers appear to be frequently motivated–and defined–by their founders’ personal ethics and dietary habits.

These deeply personal investments create a unique value proposition in the plant-based retail space, forming the foundations of a brand identity that will resonate with like-minded consumers. This will prove vital to the success of any retail rollout, as consumers have been found to form an opinion about a brand within just 0.05 seconds, which will impact whether they chose to buy or not.

Studies have shown that the chief motivations for consumers choosing plant-based products include animal welfare, personal health and well-being, and environmental stewardship. Any brands that seek to position themselves alongside the same concerns should be able to foster long standing relationships with said buyers.

Case study: Heura Foods.

Founded in 2017, Heura Foods is a Barcelona-based company that has been clear about its mission from day one. The founders, Marc Coloma and Bernat Ananos Martinez, call themselves “agents of change” and seek to create a more sustainable and healthy food system. They draw consumers in by inviting them to become “good rebels” and to join in the fight against meat and dairy-centric nutrition.

Combined with vibrant and cheerful branding and well-conceived product launches, Heura is now thought to be the fastest-growing plant-based operation in Europe.

Step 2: Planning and promotion must be unique

To launch in the plant-based market, thorough planning is essential, but remember that no universal rollout methodology will guarantee visibility and success.

Selfish Cow

Leveraging accessible and cost-effective consumer insight tools–including Google Analytics and Google Trends–provides valuable information about target consumers and should be utilized early, to shape promotion strategies. This is important as around 65% of a company’s business comes from repeat customers, so gaining insight into what they are looking for and bagging that first purchase could lead to lasting brand loyalty.

The uniqueness of a company is a valuable tool for standing out from competitors and should provide a jumping off point for campaign development. On the flip side, emulating strategies used by others in the sector will likely draw comparisons, which is inadvisable. This is especially pertinent for independents when looking for inspiration at major players, such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Engaging promotions, strategically aligned with key calendar dates and supported by effective marketing content, are still considered a recipe for brand awareness success. Playing to the individuality of a company will only further enhance this.

Case study: THIS Isn’t Streaky Bacon

UK plant-based manufacturer THIS chose to unveil its streaky bacon analogue in December 2022, creating buzz ahead of Veganuary 2023. It launched into almost 3,000 supermarkets across the country and was squarely aimed at existing plant-based eaters, flexitarians, Veganuary participants, and vegan bacon naysayers.

Selfish Cow

The launch was supported by in-store promotions and tongue-in-cheek social posts that tied in with the brand’s wider image. Earlier in the year, THIS released a limited edition bacon-scented perfume, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The stunt saw the fragrance sell out in just 20 minutes and raise the profile of its existing bacon products.

Step 3: Launching online, in-store or both?

Choosing the right launch strategy can make or break a market debut, which means thinking carefully about where to sell products.

For many new plant-based brands, a 100% online retailer offers an ideal platform to gain recognition, test products, and gather feedback. This differs from D2C as online retailers already have the infrastructure to market products and provide sales data, without further investment. In addition, setting up an effective logistics chain can prove costly and difficult for challenger brands that are not experienced in the delivery of products straight to consumers.

Alternatively, brands might look at launching in-store and finding dependable distribution partners. This is crucial to securing a spot in the market, but it is not always easy. Even when a notable partner is confirmed, it offers no guarantee that others will follow nor that the products being supplied will be given good visibility. Responsiveness, flexibility, reliability, and a strong focus on quality control are sought after characteristics of any distribution partner.

A third option is to launch unilaterally; however, this can be costly and requires exemplary organization, including careful stock control and allocation. Launch strategies depend greatly on a brand’s goals, the types of products being manufactured (affecting hope they need to be stored), and budget.

Case study: One Planet Pizza

“When looking for a dependable distributor, lean into your network and your community. Some of our best partnerships have come through word-of-mouth, often a recommendation from another founder over LinkedIn,” Joe Hill, co-founder of One Planet Pizza says. “Let your community know you’re looking and make it very clear what it is you hope to achieve and what type of partner would help you do this.”

Hill is currently trying to interest Waitrose in becoming a distributor, to follow in Asda’s footsteps.

Step 4: Create buy-in from consumers

While becoming increasingly competitive, the plant-based market remains dominated by established brands. This means that challengers must differentiate themselves and carve their own niches to create a loyal customer base or ‘consumer buy-in’.

Alongside an established brand identity, factors such as taste, texture, appearance, affordability, a wide product portfolio, and prepared meals can create consumer buy-in. Companies can align their releases by identifying what consumers want (convenience plus easy access to healthier food choices that will work with their budgets). Once customers feel connected to a brand, they will likely buy into new releases. Data supports this, with findings claiming that 43% of consumers will spend more when they feel loyal to a manufacturer.

Case study: Impossible Foods

Impossible Foods has revealed that it has reduced its wholesale prices by 15%, in order to remain competitive in the market and to be an appealing option to consumers. The move proves that even the major players are not able to rest on their laurels or their 2020 sales booms.

The plant-based food sector is expected to reach over $162 billion in value, by 2030. With such growth will come increased competition for shelf space and visibility. Both established and challenger brands will need to double-down on their unique selling points and tailored consumer engagement to claim market share.

A Look At Plant Milk Labelling Restrictions in The U.S and The U.K

Selfish Cow

There has been a huge increase in plant-based milk sales in recent years, making it the most successful of all plant-based categories. Sales have grown dramatically in the past decade and continue to grow. Global revenue for plant-based milk totaled US$ 11 billion in 2020. Demand is set to grow by 11% between 2021 and 2031, with more consumers choosing it for health, taste or ethical reasons. According to the Good Food Institute (GFI) plant-based milk took a 15% share of the total milk market in 2021 – up from 12% in 2018. 

As the sector grows governments are reassessing how plant-based milk should be labelled, with each territory taking a different stance. The US and UK are both reviewing their rules but are taking very different approaches and appear to be travelling in different directions. Whilst in the US it looks like things are getting easier for plant-based milk producers, in the UK the regulations look set to become more restrictive.  

In February 2023 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published its draft guidance on the labelling of plant-based milk. The document says that alternative dairy products can use the word “milk” on packaging and recommends a voluntary change to labelling. The FDA recommends the voluntary label should state the nutritional difference between plant-based milk and cows’ milk. The guidance only applies to plant-based milk, not other plant-based products. 

This comes after years of discussion between the FDA, businesses and Congress on using dairy names for plant-based foods. A 2018 FDA request for comments got 13,000 responses.  

The FDA reviewed consumer studies and conducted focus groups, revealing that consumers understand that plant-based milk does not contain cows’ milk and that the word milk is commonly used to describe plant-based milk. For example, one study found around 75% of respondents understood that plant-based milk does not contain milk and less than 10% believed plant-based milk contained dairy milk. 

Selfish Cow

The FDA said: “the fact that a standard of identity has been established for a food (under its common or usual name) or that a name is specified among the standard of identity regulations for a food does not preclude use of the name in the common or usual name of another food.” 

The FDA’s recommends qualifying the word milk with the specific plant source, such as soy milk, or walnut and cashew milk if there are two sources. It recommends a voluntary nutrition statement that describes how the product is nutritionally different to cows’ milk, such as “Contains lower/higher amounts of [nutrient name(s)] than milk.” 

The draft is open for further comments until April 24 2023, and the final guidance is expected to be published in the summer of 2023.  

Meanwhile, in the UK, the government looks likely to apply further restrictions on labelling non-dairy milk.  

Currently, plant-based milk cannot use dairy names such as milk due to an EU law dating back to 1987. Since Brexit, the UK government could relax this. However, the Food Standards and Information Focus Group (FSIFG) is calling for further labelling restrictions to be tightened. They have proposed additional restrictions to ban misspellings like Mylk or M*lk, and phrases like milk-alternative.  

The move has been strongly criticised by a group of 44 plant-based businesses and organizations, including Alpro, Oatly, Quorn, Pro Veg, Plant-Based Food Alliance, and the Good Food Institute, who have written to the government pointing out that the ban will impact the government’s environmental and food strategies.   

The FSIFG believes consumers could be confused and misled by dairy-like terms used on plant-based milk. However, a new study from plant-based food producer Upfield found that most consumers could distinguish between dairy and plant-based alternatives. For example, 91% could tell that Flora Plant B+tter Salted was plant-based.  

Dominic Brisby, Regional President, Europe, for Upfield said: “Do British officials really think Brits are incapable of understanding the terms that people across the pond clearly don’t struggle with? There is absolutely no problem with consumers being confused. Consumers know exactly what products they are picking off supermarket shelves.”

Taking Alternative Proteins Mainstream

Alternative protein brands should avoid the word vegan and highlight the protein source, sensory appeal, and health benefits to win new customers. This is the message in a new consumer behaviour report.  

The study is from The Good Food Institute (GFI), an international non-profit working to accelerate non-animal protein, and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm. Over the last year, the team analysed over 100 academic studies of customer behaviour and social media attitudes towards alternative protein. They have developed a strategy to make alternative protein more appealing to the mainstream market. They shared their thought leadership publication ‘Taking Alternative Proteins Mainstream’ at a GFI webinar in March 2023. 

BCG outlined the problem: mainstream consumers know that eating less animal protein is better for the planet, their health, and animals. But despite the growth of innovative alternatives, traditional meat consumption continues to rise. So how can plant-based protein brands reach more consumers and convince them to choose non-animal options? According to the report, plant-based meat brands would benefit from a more consumer-centric approach to their marketing messages, especially those on the packaging. 

Neeru Ravi is BCG’s topic lead for alternative proteins in North America and a core member of its Consumer and Climate Sustainability. She told the GFI webinar that between 2019 and 2021, the US alternative protein retail market plateaued: “In 2019-2020, there was a big growth spike which levelled from 2020-2021. While alternative dairy continued growing, alternative meat remained flat and slightly declined. At the same time, there was a slight increase in the share held by traditional meat.” 

 This slowdown happened during a period of significant change: from pandemic to post-pandemic, from grocery retail to food service, with price rises and a surge in brands offering meat alternatives. However, the stagnation can also be partly attributed to how alternative protein is marketed to consumers. 

Neeru Ravi explained: “We know that animal agriculture is a large contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, and investing in plant-based proteins makes a lot of sense. But from a consumer perspective, sustainability isn’t their primary concern. A survey of almost 3000 consumers shows a big gap in what consumers say versus what they do. 80% say they care about sustainability, but only 20% make food choices based on that concern. We found that health and taste were the top needs driving purchasing decisions for fresh food. We need to address this if we are to attract mainstream consumers. 

BCG suggested four strategies for winning more mainstream consumers. They focus on the messaging on the front of packs, an area with limited space but the massive potential for converting consumer decisions. 

Avoid The Word Vegan

Vegans and vegetarians are around 5% of the overall market. Appealing to these consumers is not going to drive mainstream growth. And it carries some risks. BCG found that the word vegan was associated with lower sales. As BCG’s Project Leader Ema Tanovic explained: “Vegan is an identity, and using an identity-based label can introduce a psychological barrier. A consumer will think – ‘I’m not vegan, so this product is not for me. Or if I consume this product, what does that say about me?’ Instead, use non-identity-based terms such as ‘doesn’t contain animal products’ to convey that same information.”  

Identify The Protein Source 

Consumers want to know what they’re eating. Evidence shows that specifying a protein source is associated with higher scores for sustainability, taste and health, and better sales. This is a great opportunity to use images of key ingredients on the printed pack. 

Highlight Sensory appeal 

For occasion-dependent food, where the consumer wants an indulgent treat, highlight the taste, not health claims. Ema Tanovic says: “If you have a product that delivers a sensory experience, like taste, texture, emotional enjoyment, fun or happy memories, say it on the front of the pack. A study compared plain descriptive labels to indulgent labels, for example, green beans and sizzling sweet beans. The frequency with which people chose the dish with the indulgent label was 25% higher. This holds true for plant-based meats as well as vegetable dishes.” 

Highlight Positive Health Benefits  

Consumers responded to health claims with positive rather than restrictive language. That means highlighting a good attribute rather than the lack of a bad one – so high protein rather than low calorie. Ema Tanovic said: “We recommend going beyond just sharing nutritional information. Instead of saying 10 grams of protein, say a great source of protein if your product delivers that. However, health is sometimes correlated negatively with other needs, like taste. So when you tell consumers a product is healthy, some expect it to taste less good, so on some occasions highlighting health is not the best approach.” 

This strategy has been used widely by alternative dairy, resulting in positive sales growth, reaching 8% penetration of the overall dairy category. Neera Ravi concludes: “An analysis of the top 25 alternative dairy brands found that 88% have implemented two or more strategies. The term vegan has been replaced with dairy-free. The source of protein is identified as soya, almond or oat. Brands highlight sensory attributes like rich and creamy. And many highlight health benefits such as calcium, vitamin A, and omega 3. With alternative meat, only half of the top 25 brands are using two or more of the strategies. This matters for performance as alternative meat brands using two or more of the strategies outperformed competitors by a wide margin of six to one. This analysis tells us there’s real value in applying these insights from behavioural science.” 

What’s Hot in Plant-Based? Natural Products Expo West 2023 Has Clues

With thousands of exhibitors across the natural products space and tens of thousands of visitors, the annual Natural Products Expo West, better known simply as Expo West, is among the top must-see shows in the industry. This year’s event, held in Anaheim, CA, March 8-11, was buzzing with energy and new product activity. Here are key plant-based product subcategories to keep an eye on:

  • Whole muscle meat alternatives have been the holy grail for the industry, which to date focused primarily on plant-based ground products. Canada-based Urbani Brands recently introduced its ribeye steak product manufactured from a combination of soybean protein and oil, tapioca, konjac root, and other ingredients. At Expo West, Konscious Foods featured a variety of sushi rolls with whole-muscle fish produced from seaweed, konjac, and pea protein. Current Foods tuna and salmon products are created from pea protein, potato starch, and algal oil and are designed to be consumed “raw” in sushi, sashimi, poke bowls, and other applications. unMEAT offers plant-based canned luncheon meat and tuna and is introducing canned chunk chicken, chilli with beans, and roast beef alternatives.
  • The battle of the burgers continues. Despite a highly saturated marketplace, plant-based burger brands continue to emerge and differentiate themselves from the competition. Nobull brands itself as the “true veggie burger” that is “not meant to be a meat imitator, but a true, whole-food, real food veggie burger” made from lentils, brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, and vegetables. The ingredient list for burgers from Dr. Praeger’s is almost entirely vegetables, along with starches and flours for binding. Actual Veggies and Big Mountain also focus on their vegetable content rather than trying to recreate a meat-like burger.
  • Global plant-based products offer cultural diversity in authentic recreations of traditional dishes. Triton Algae Innovations, a San Diego-based food startup, launched its “Too Good To Be” Pork dumpling with algae, cabbage, onion, and plant-based pork. Funky Fresh offers a sweet potato and black bean vegan spring roll in addition to its conventional product line. Italy-based Mia Green Food produces a line of Italian-style plant-based deli slices, including protein-rich alternatives to turkey breast, carpaccio, pepperoni, and prosciutto. Wheat gluten is the primary protein; pea and chickpea flour may also be used depending on the variety. Mozzarisella creates its vegan mozzarella and Parmesan cheese alternatives using brown rice sprouts, along with oils and thickeners. Somos has a full line of plant-based classic Mexican dishes – refried beans, black beans, burrito bowl kits, and main dishes. Pea protein is widely used to the brand’s dishes containing plant-based ground meat.
  • Dairy alternative drinks are coming closer to replicating the protein and calcium profile of dairy milk by adding protein and calcium to a base that tends to be low in both. Oat continues to stand out as the most prominent base for dairy alternative drinks, although choices have broadened to include pistachio, macadamia, sesame, and the newly introduced mushroom milk. Animal-free milks made with whey from Perfect Day are trying to win over a consumer base among flexitarians who are interested in dairy alternatives and animal welfare but are not necessarily committed to a vegan diet.
  • Next generation cheeses are incorporating traditional cheesemaking techniques to recreate the texture, flavor, and performance of dairy cheeses. Climax introduced vegan blue, brie, feta, and chevre cheeses that are “high in protein, at parity with dairy, and with better fats and other nutritional properties.” The company website notes that it explores combinations of plant-based ingredients that can be optimized to “produce indistinguishable alternatives to animal-based products.” Mia Parmegan plant-based Parmesan is similar in appearance to a wrapped Parmigiano wedge, can be grated, and also melts. Bel Brands featured its Nurishh plant-based cheeses and its green wax-wrapped Babybel Plant-Based, each with added calcium and vitamin B12.
  • The keto diet is a variation on the age-old meat-rich, high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet. This current iteration has fully adapted for the plant-centric consumer, with plenty of nuts, coconut, and non-caloric sweeteners. Super Fat Keto Nut Butters are made with a base of coconut, almond, and macadamia; they are sweetened with erythritol and stevia. Super Fat also offers keto cookies. Madly Hadley markets a keto friendly, gluten free, soy free plant-based coconut bacon. Carbonaut breads and buns are fortified with protein and fiber, raising protein content to up to 12 grams per serving and lowering carbohydrates to 2-3 grams of net carbs. Sola breads, buns and bagels, all labeled keto-friendly, are an excellent source of both protein and fiber. Their high fiber content reduces net carbs significantly. Keto-friendly Catalina Crunch Cereal gets its protein from pea protein; fiber from potato, corn, and chicory root; and fat from sunflower oil, coconut oil, and almonds. Stevia provides sweetness without carbs or calories.
  • Noodles and pasta naturally are plant-based, unless they are made with eggs. Today’s plant-based pasta trends include a broader range of flours, use of vegetables for color and nutrition, and low carbohydrate options. Pastabilities formulates and markets its pasta products for different types of diets: high protein, high fiber, and low calorie. The Wildfare line of organic, vegan pastas are flavored and colored with a range of vegetables, including beetroot, broccoli, olive, sweet red pepper, tomato, spinach, and black carrot. Andean Valley produces pasta from quinoa grown sustainably in Nicaragua. Miracle Noodle plant-based noodles have close to zero calories and carbohydrates as a result of their konjac flour base.
  • Mushrooms loom large in product launches. Functional mushrooms have been added to supplements, beverages, and food products. The company Meati uses mushroom root protein as the base for its product line of cutlets and steaks. Big Mountain offers its Lion’s Mane Mushroom Crumble that supplements lion’s mane with shiitake and portobello mushrooms. The product is high in fiber and protein. Bravo Tea promotes a Mushroom Wonders line with a choice of lion’s mane, reishi, turkey tail, chaga, maitake, cordyceps, or blended mushroom.
  • Soy-free products are becoming more common across a broad range of categories, including burgers, dairy alternative drinks, snack mixes, and even tofu, where one company sampled a tofu made from fava beans rather than soy.

Expo West is nearly back to its pre-pandemic energy and innovation and likely will continue to be among the go-to shows for plant-based innovation.

Upcoming Webinar Featuring Experts From Deliveroo, Meatless Farm, Veg Capital, and More

Tuesday, February 7 at 9am EST (2pm GMT) will see new webinar series, Insider Talks launch live on Plant Based World Pulse. 

The monthly segment will feature key players in the industry as they engage in topical conversations hosted by Indy Kaur, Founder of Plant Futures and former Plant Based Strategy Lead at Tesco. 

The first topic: ‘Celebrating Plant-Based Successes and Planning for The Challenges Ahead’ features:

  • Morten Toft Bech – Founder, Meatless Farm 
  • ElenaDevis - Head of Vegan Category, Deliveroo 
  • RabinderHarrison - Commercial Director, Veg Capital 
  • MarisaHeath - CEO, Plant Based Food Alliance 
  • Simon Day – ex-Squeaky Bean and Investor 


  • How did Deliveroo lead the online delivery market to create a multi-million vegan category? 
  • How Meatless Farm became one of Europes fastest-growing plant-based brands available in over 20 countries, and what challenges lie ahead? 
  • How did Squeaky Bean go from £0 to £15m in under 3 years and what were some of the lessons, as well as the successes? 
  • Why plant-based has attracted so many investors, how they are fuelling change and why investment is becoming harder to find. 
  • Where did the early sales boom come from? And why this will be different going forwards? 
  • Is it only price that drives consumer perceptions of value? What role can taste, health or other benefits play?

The webinars will include behind-the scenes insights from major players in development, manufacturing, foodservice, retail, finance, and advocacy.  

The series aims to give those who work in the plant-based field a space for open and honest conversation about the most pressing topics, challenges and opportunities facing businesses. It is aimed at anyone working in the plant-based field or those who want to support and understand the issues driving success, the hurdles the businesses face and how others have overcome them.  

The series has been created by Plant Based Pulse World Product Manager Damoy Robertson and Indy Kaur, after they identified a need for timely debates about pressing issues.  

Insider Talks is free to attend. Register now to via the link below:

Insider Talks

The Veganuary Effect: Dominos, Burger King and McDonalds Compete with 2023 Launches

The impact of Veganuary on interest in plant-based food has grown tremendously since its inception almost a decade ago. What began in 2014 as a UK-non-profit-based challenge for people to go vegan for a month is now a worldwide phenomenon and household name. The campaign expanded from 3300 participants in 2014 to an anticipated 650,000 today, with data showing one person every 2.4 seconds signs up for the challenge. It now has offices in seven countries (UK, US, Germany, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and India) and participants from almost every country in the world. The campaign is making waves across retail and foodservice like never before. 

Business Boost 

Aside from being an exciting time for vegan-curious consumers, Veganuary offers a big boost for businesses offering plant-based products. Last year established brands embraced Veganuary with new ranges. This included M&S’s 175 new vegan products, Burger King’s vegan nuggets, Subway’s fake meat sandwiches, Domino’s PepperoNAY pizza, Babybel’s plant-based mini cheeses and Starbuck’s TuNAH sandwich. This year has seen the launch of the first vegan Toad in the Hole in supermarkets, as well as Heinz launching the first plant-based version of its Cream of Tomato Soup and Beanz and Sausges, THIS launched its isn’t Streaky Bacon after 2-years of production, Squeaky Bean’s vegan Chorizo, and a range of new products from both Starbucks and Greggs.

2023 has also seen new product launches from major fast-food chains with McDonald’s launching its Double McPlant, and Burger Kind launching its vegan bacon and cheese across all 510 UK restaurants. So how can companies make the most of the month-long campaign? 

Converting the Masses  

Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s International Head of Communications and Marketing, explains that Veganuary is important for businesses for two reasons: “Firstly, there is the sheer number of people who do it. Last year 630,000 signed up on the website, but research from Kantar and YouGov found that many more joined in without registering. That amounts to a lot of new customers in January who are buying plant-based for the first time. Secondly, because there is so much hype around Veganuary, supermarkets and high street restaurants do promotions on their vegan ranges. Figures show that even people who aren’t taking part are buying more plant-based products in January. So it is a great time to reach flexitarians.”  

Getting Involved 

There are lots of ways that businesses can get involved and maximize the Veganuary effect. There is a downloadable business toolkit and the Veganuary corporate outreach team can be contacted for ideas. Special offers are listed on their website, so if businesses tell them, they will get a listing. A lot of brands do outdoor advertising and stunts to get media attention. It is an ideal time to send a truck out with samples – to get products in front of customers when they are curious and open minded about vegan food.  

Toni Vernelli adds: “You can use our logo on your packaging, promotional material, and social media posts without any copyright issues. Because the logo is so recognizable, it makes it very easy for participants to find things to eat. We have over a million followers on social media and have channels in English, German, Spanish and Portuguese. The hashtag #Veganuary2022 was viewed 42.8 million times on TikTok. So, using the hashtags is a great way to get customers to hear about new products.” 

 Participant Feedback 

Veganuary sends a questionnaire to all registered participants, and the responses are a great resource for businesses, with insights on what people find hardest. This research shows that despite huge improvements there are still gaps in the market. “The thing people miss most is cheese. There can never be enough of it because there are so many different varieties that people want veganised. We’re told the supermarkets have not yet hit the nail on the head with vegan cheese. People also say they miss eggs. There still isn’t an alternative to a poached egg. Milk chocolate comes up quite a lot. Even though there’s plenty out there it tends to be very expensive compared to dairy equivalents and doesn’t come in small bars, the size you’d see at a petrol station. And any type of fish product – there’s still not nearly enough fake fish out there.”   

Planning for the Future 

This year’s campaign theme focuses on a key issue for consumers right now: affordability. There will be examples of budget meals, one pot dinners, and making products go further to get best value, for example by using sausages in a casserole. Veganuary will also start preparing for its 10th anniversary, taking place in January 2024. It will be a chance to celebrate the advances in vegan food between then and now. Toni Vernelli reminds us: “Back In 2014 you would have struggled to find much more than a single brand of sausages, tofu, and felafel whereas now supermarkets have whole aisles of chilled and frozen products. There isn’t a restaurant chain or takeaway that doesn’t have vegan options.”   

Toni Vernelli believes there is scope for further collaboration in the future: “It would be great to do an award for best new product. We would also like to encourage staff at plant-based businesses to take the workplace challenge themselves, if they are not already vegan. It is a great way to get people enthusiastic about the products they make, experiment with recipes and bring in food to share.” 

You can see the latest news from the Veganuary campaign, including new product and menu launches on their instagram page.  

Dutch City Bans Meat Advertisements: All You Need To Know

The city of Haarlem in the Netherlands has placed a ban on meat advertising which is set to come into effect from 2024. The production of meat has been conclusively demonstrated to be one of the largest contributors to global emissions and land waste. It is responsible for 60% of greenhouse emissions from food production, prompting the city’s council to act.   

Banned from Public Spaces 

Adverts will be banned from all public spaces such as buses, shelters and advertisement screens. Meat will no longer be promoted to the 160,000 residents of Haarlem as they traverse the city. The ban directly addresses the unethical nature of promoting unsustainable products, specifically those that contribute towards the climate crisis.  

Haarlem councillor Ziggy Klazes, who helped create this motion, said that “We can’t tell people there’s a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of the cause.” In this, the city has recognised that the food its residents choose to eat plays a significant role in determining their carbon footprint. Haarlem is the first city anywhere in the world to recognise this crucial link in policy, as the motion proposed by the GroenLinks party was passed in September this year.  

Extent of the Ban 

As it stands, the ban addresses meat produced by intensive farming only. There have been no comments or decisions made by the council regarding organically farmed meat. In addition to this, it is not clear how the ban will be enforced on independent retailers and how it will affect different foods and brands. Clearer guidelines will certainly be needed before the ban is put into practice.  

Ziggy Klazes is hopeful that the idea will spread nationally, calling it a ‘signal’ to others. Klazes concluded “There are many groups of Groenlinks who think it is a good idea and want to try it.”  

Will it Catch On? 

This is an innovative policy decision and a bold move against the industries that are damaging the environment. But will other cities follow? The party represents the local green-left and it seems likely other councillors will put forward motions in their own cities. 

Haarlem is the first ever city to do this and the ban follows on from similar restrictions being placed on the advertisement of air-travel, petrol cars and fossil fuels by Amsterdam in 2021. Elsewhere, Norwich in the UK has placed limitations on advertising products that are harmful for the environment and several UK cities are moving in a similar direction. The key here is raising awareness about the detrimental impact meat has on the environment and getting politicians to understand that meat production plays a major role.  

This action has received masses of news and media coverage despite not yet being put into place. If this idea is implemented by other cities, Haarlem will be regarded as a pioneer of this type of policy.   

Agricultural Backlash 

The restriction aims to reduce people’s temptation to buy meat, therefore reducing meat consumption and production. The Netherlands has already committed to reducing the number of animals farmed for food by a third to reduce emissions and farm waste.  

Unsurprisingly, the animal agriculture industry have expressed strong opposition to the decision. Farmers have made news protesting recent restrictions on herd size put into place to reduce emissions. Their staged “tractor protests” blocked motorways and caused disruption to make their opposition known to the government. Before this ban, tensions were already high with the government’s perceived interference in their farming practices.  

The ban also raises moral considerations over freedom of expression, and there have been questions of censorship levelled against the ban. Is it ethical to control what is advertised to the public? One right wing councillor, representing the farmers and the opposing political side, Joey Rademaker, called the move “dictatorial” because the ban is for “political reasons” and does not allow people to make up their own minds about what they eat.  

Growth of Alternatives 

Supporters reinforce that the ban is driven by environmental concern rather than a bid for political control. Indeed, plant-based alternatives to meat are far more sustainable – they have less emissions and cost less to produce.  

Although the Netherlands still has a large meat-eating population, there are more people trying meat alternatives than ever before. The plant-based market in the Netherlands is one of the largest in the European Union with sales of 134 million.  

Haarlem is, undoubtedly, making a bold and innovative step in the right direction. This ban will continue to spark a debate on the ethics of consuming animal products on the local, national, and global stage. The party’s full ideology and hopes for the future can be seen in their New Green Deal for the Netherlands.