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Stand by for the vegan backlash

Retailers can expect a ‘vegan backlash’ in which health-conscious shoppers rebel against bandwagon products of questionable nutritional value.

Food consultant Simon Wright, one of several commentators making predictions ahead of Natural and Organic Products Europe 2020, believes health and eco-conscious individuals turning to a vegan diet have seen that too many products are highly processed, of questionable nutritional value, and use unsustainable/unethical ingredients.

“I hope the backlash will bring some perspective to the market, allowing vegans to marry convenience, taste, health, and sustainability,” says Wright, founder of OF+ Consulting. “One opportunity for 2020 will be education on ‘vegan scratch cooking’, where retailers sell ingredients which permit a more natural, plant-based diet based around organic whole foods, making this more accessible to the masses and provide a competitor to recently launched over-processed food and drink."

The planet’s climate crisis will remain at the top of the agenda for many of the show’s participants. “This presents an opportunity for the industry to come together and champion sustainability in innovations that are kinder to the planet and the creatures we share it with,” says Abigail Stevens, trademark marketing manager at The Vegan Society. Expect the climate message to be prominent in the marketing messages that chime with consumers, especially for organic produce and products.

Finn Cottle, Soil Association trade consultant, says: "While there have been more reports and documentaries on biodiversity decline and the impacts of intensive farming methods, Soil Association is hopeful that the relevance of organic as a solution will waken shoppers from their routine habits, and the majority will want to understand more about where their food comes from and how it is produced. Brands that are both organic and have other attributes such as ‘free from’, ‘vegan’ or ‘less packaging’ will have the greatest chance of greater success."

Expect advances in zero waste and innovative packaging at the show as consumers have made it known they want products that leave as small a mark on the planet as possible.

"The industry and consumers have started to realise that the impact on the environment of beauty product packaging is even bigger than the ingredients used,” says Jo Chidley, co-founder of Beauty Kitchen UK. “The trend is being driven by consumers and the industry is trying to react quickly by reducing packaging and making it more recyclable, but this is just being 'less-bad'.

“Many are also launching refill options using unrecyclable pouches, however only those that are truly mission led and focus on reuse models will really meet the consumer demand for 'more-good'."

The show will feature 70 speakers across three theatres; two New Product Showcases; international and regional pavilions; a new Spritz area (natural, organic, biodynamic, and vegan wines, beers and no-and-low drinks); an Independent Retailer Networking Lounge; Vegan World.

Find out more about the Natural Products show

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