Over the last decade, foodie culture has gone mainstream and consumers have come to the clear realization that what they eat has consequences beyond the refrigerator – and it’s led to significant changes in the marketplace.
Specifically, UK-based food companies have started offering more healthful options, including vegan foods, as well as emphasizing sustainability initiatives. No longer restricted to a niche market, healthy, sustainable foods have become big business.
There are estimated to be about 3.5 million vegans in the UK, just a small portion of the population, but while vegans may be a minority, there’s a lot of interest in vegan products, and investors are paying attention.
Indeed, it was with an eye on this growing market that Blue Horizon Ventures kicked off 2020 by signing a 7-figure deal with the vegan candy company LoveRaw. Based in the Greater Manchester area, LoveRaw has seen huge year-over-year growth on their vegan Butter Cups and coffee products, making them an appealing brand for Blue Horizon, which has previously invested in the US-based Beyond Meat.
Quality and convenience
When you look in a vending machine for a quick snack, what do you see? In an average machine, you’ll find an array of cookies, crisps, and candy bars, but today’s busy consumers are looking for healthier choices. To fill this market gap, The Jar vending machine offers fresh products and healthy snacks in major venues, including the NHS, WeWork, and the Bell School. The company has also partnered with local groceries to ensure fresh produce in their machines doesn’t go bad; the machines’ software alerts to time-sensitive goods and they’re sold at a discount.
A fresh take on fruit
Crisps may be vegan and even have limited ingredients, but they’re not exactly the healthiest snack, but what else can you eat on the go when you’re craving something crunchy? Why not a fruit-based crisp? That’s what Alessandro Ascani and Emily Wong had in mind when they founded Emily Fruit Crisp, a simple fruit and veggie snack made with just a little oil and a sprinkling of salt. An expansion on common dried apples, the Emily Fruit Crisp brand also come in pineapple, banana, carrot and beet, edamame, and more, and are stocked in Selfridges, Tophhop, and even in The Jar vending machines.
Veg on order
Food delivery services have seen huge growth over the last five years, but the typical order is packed with less-than-healthy fare like pizza and chicken wings. As more consumers show interest in vegan eating, though, they’re also discovering more convenient options, including delivery. At the British delivery service Just Eat, this combination of veganism and convenience has manifested itself as 50% year-over-year growth in vegan food sales, which can only be explained by non-vegans participating in the market. It’s clear evidence of a growing market.
Health-conscious behaviors like veganism are no longer being viewed as all or nothing propositions, but rather a mode of self-improvement. Eating less meat or foods with fewer additives and preservatives, for example, allow anyone to improve their health and reduce their environmental impact. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to see more marketing for plant-based foods, an emphasis on “forgotten” and native crops, and sustainable and organic farming practices. Eating can be a form of social and personal responsibility and it starts at home, with UK-based brands.