The Ceuta Group has published its research on Google Trends since 2014 on vegan searches. It shows unequivocally that the vegan trend is riding the crest of a wave. Interest over that time is demonstrated by a significant increase in vegan related searches across the whole of the European continent.
The biggest increase was in the Netherlands which registered a huge 645% increase, followed by Greece in second place with 590% and Portugal in third place with a 552% increase. The UK showed the fourth biggest increase of 469% more vegan searches.
Brands need to say ahead of the curve
Ceuta Group addressed the issue of how brands need to “stay ahead of the curve“. Ceuta Group’s Focus Magazine, managing director Annette D’Abreo wrote: “Brand owners have a new job, they have to not only create great brands, they have to create great brands that connect with the consumers… Get this right and followers will stay loyal and true.”
Providers not only should provide products to satisfy the demand for vegan food but also through communication of their brands they need to convey the corresponding, expected values of social consciousness.
Lawrence Janes, managing director of Collidascope, wrote in Ceuta Group’s Focus magazine: “Brands that are not adapting their views, messages and products are beginning to suffer volume and value declines.”
Shops and supermarket chains such as Tesco are increasing their product portfolio with vegan products. Other retailers are establishing new product launches, and vegan-specific food delivery options are increasing. Established fast-food producers are beginning to offer vegan meals.
To keep up with the demand for vegan food, the research group emphasises that brands need to stay ahead of the trend, communicate friendliness towards the environment and offer a plethora of plant-based choices.
Why such change? There seem to be few reasons, importance varying depending on the country.
Climate change seems to be the most important: the carbon footprint. Animal farming is hugely contributing to the greenhouse effect, whereas plant farming contributes very little to global agricultural emissions.
The desire for more healthy lifestyles is another major reason – people are more conscious about risks related to meat consumption. Meat, especially when cheap and of poor quality, has particularly harmful effects with the number of preservatives contained in them. A healthier choice is the driver for the rising interest and purchases of plant-based products. People worldwide are searching for information and educating themselves on healthy, vegan lifestyles.
The third reason for this increase is interest in animal well-being. The treatment of animals and sheer cruelty is increasingly affecting people. Many are now becoming conscious of the fact of the killing involved and this is another reason why people are consciously searching for plant-based sources of nourishment.
Given these factors, food producers, retail chains and food providers such as restaurants, bars and street-food are all addressing this trend.
Consumers, especially young people, are willing to pay more for healthy food, especially if the provider is also environmentally friendly and socially responsible. This offers the opportunity for growth for the right brands. Brands will ignore this social movement at their peril.