Can Veganuary Revive Interest in Plant-Based Products?

Can Veganuary Revive Interest in Plant-Based Products?

Emerald Nwanne

For millions of people around the world, January is a time for lifestyle changes. Healthy eating and exercise habits are promoted, and the trend of Dry January is bigger than ever in the US. On our radar in 2023 is a trend started across the pond - UK-based campaign, Veganuary. The campaign encourages meat-eaters worldwide to try veganism for the month of January. 

Though 629,000 people signed up for the campaign in 2022, Evergi data reveals a stark decline in plant-based product purchasing. But will Veganuary be enough to revive declining interest in vegan/plant-based foods? We’ll look at the US Veganuary campaign and offer data-backed tips to position plant-based CPG brands for success.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is an annual non-profit campaign encouraging and supporting people in giving up meat for a month. It’s been embraced by many retailers and other organizations all over the world. Veganuary helps people make the transition to plant-forward diets by making plant-based alternatives  "more available, accessible, and affordable". A range of in-store promotions bring awareness to plant-based offerings with the hope that these alternatives eventually replace traditional meat.

Veganuary started in January 2014 and has grown steadily in popularity. In 2017 just under 50,000 people pledged to abstain from animal products for the campaign. That number has since grown to a staggering 629,000 participants in 2022 - an increase of over 1100% in just five years. The Veganuary campaign suggests six million people took part in 2022, with only 10% registered on the website.

Consumers across the United States are now taking part in this challenge. In 2022, for the first time, more Americans than Britons participated in Veganuary. While the larger US plant-based market is facing challenges, trends such as Veganuary suggest potential marketing opportunities for plant-based brands.

Veganuary Trends in 2023

New CPG data from Evergi consumer insights showed a decline in the popularity of plant-forward diets in 2022. About 10% of American consumers follow plant-forward diets, including vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. The last few quarters show this group slowly declining across all demographics. 

This decline has had a stark impact on plant-based alternatives. Dozens of products from plant-based meat and fish alternatives to plant-based dairy alternatives are garnering less interest than years prior.This decline can be attributed to the end of the 2020 pandemic, changing consumer tastes, and rising costs of plant-based products.

According to external sources, plant-based meat sales have slowed by almost 40% in the last few years. Although many consumers still commit to Veganuary, the larger plant-based food market is growing at a slower pace.

Consumers had time and energy to experiment with plant-forward diets during the pandemic. However, many elected to go back to familiar foods to keep up with their busy lifestyles when the world opened back up. Consumer tastes also appear to be moving towards innovative flavor combinations and newer product categories.

Lastly, global inflation is leading to ripples in the economy around the world. Consumers are feeling the sting of rising prices and higher interest rates. The recent downturn has made consumers more sensitive to price, a change that particularly affects luxury purchases such as plant-based alternatives.

Making the Most of Veganuary

CPG brands can increase brand awareness and drive sales by being part of the Veganuary conversation. With the right strategy, they can benefit from increased exposure through marketing partnerships with Veganuary and their partners.

Veganuary is a perfect opportunity for plant-based brands to improve their positioning in the marketplace.  But, it’s more than just adding a few products to a portfolio. It's important to develop a strategy with an understanding of the needs of consumers looking to adopt plant-based diets. Even better, offer them distinct solutions.  

Marketers have a unique opportunity to drive some of this growth through consumer education and awareness campaigns. This is especially true if they are able to frame the initiative in a way that aligns with their brand identity.

Brands are joining the movement on social media by sharing recipes, reviews, and product breakdowns. Brands taking advantage of the moment even produce their own marketing materials that encourage substitution of meat with its own plant-based alternatives. Everywhere plant-based brands can support the Veganuary campaign, they set themselves up to compete for consumers' increasingly tight funds.

Read Evergi’s latest plant-based report for exclusive insights into the plant-based market.

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