2021 Becomes Veganuary’s Biggest Year Yet

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Veganuary, a global organisation encouraging people to try vegan in January and beyond, has released the final figures for its 2021 campaign. 582,538 people signed-up, compared to 400,000 in 2020, far exceeding the group’s 2021 target of 500,000.

The campaign was given a huge boost in December when Jane Goodall, Ricky Gervais, Paul McCartney, John Bishop, Sara Pascoe and over 100 additional international celebrities, politicians, NGOs and businesses signed a joint letter calling on everyone to help fight climate change and prevent future pandemics by changing their diet – starting by signing-up for Veganuary.

Hundreds of new plant-based products and menu items were also launched this January with sales of many exceeding all expectations. Just a week after launching, Leon’s new Vegan Sweet Carolina BBQ Burger swept up the title of its bestselling burger. M&S sold one of its new No Salt Beef Pretzel Roll every 30 seconds and its Plant Kitchen Vegan Chocolate Cookie was its most popular single cookie. Pret’s new Meatless Meatball Hot Wrap was the first new product to become a top five best seller in launch week in Pret’s history.

Guy Meakin, UK Trading Director at Pret, said, “I’m thrilled that we have been able to add a hot vegan item to our already robust vegan range which customers have gone crazy for this Veganuary. At Pret we’ve never seen a new product come in and shift our best sellers list, and to see it during a lockdown and in less than three weeks says a lot.” The vegan meatball wrap will now be a permanent addition to Pret’s menu.

Elena Devis, Vegan Category Manager at Deliveroo, confirmed they also saw a huge increase in demand for vegan food and thousands of new customers looking for it. Order volume from vegan restaurants was up 146% and vegan options from other restaurants up 114% year-on-year, while new customers purchasing vegan were up 163% year-on-year.

Plant-based brands also saw record sales during this Veganuary. According to Michael Hunter, the Managing Director of Meatless Farm, “It’s been an incredible month for us and the plant-based category as a whole. We know that during the first two weeks of January our sales were up 111% year-on-year and we’re expecting to have seen this grow further towards the end of the month. Not to mention, our partnerships with major brands, Pret, Leon and itsu which have seen a phenomenal response and are really testament to how mainstream plant-based eating has become. This has really set the tone for 2021 and we’re looking forward to an even bigger Veganuary next year.”

Squeaky Bean launched several new plant-based meat alternatives this January which were a huge success. According to Simon Day, Marketing Manager at Winterbotham Darby, “Squeaky Bean sales are up 222% so far versus Veganuary 2020, and it has been heartening to see the growth of the plant-based category as a whole. Given everything that is going on in the world right now it has been an impressive effort from UK retail and foodservice, suppliers, brands, and all of us as consumers making our own switches. The most encouraging sign for the future is that the food on offer continues to get more delicious, more varied and more relevant to people’s lives – our focus is on continuing that momentum through 2021 and beyond!”

Plant-based meat start-up, THIS™, made over £300,000 of retail sales in just the first week of January. Andy Shovel, Co-Founder of THIS, says: “With Veganuary beginning in lockdown this year, we weren’t completely sure what would happen. Whilst people have been ordering dishes with our products via online takeaway, our restaurant sales are naturally down compared to last year, but our boost in retail sales have compensated for this loss.”

But for many businesses it was more than just a commercial endeavour as over 40 companies – including PWC, EY, Bloomberg, Nestle, M&S and Quorn – took part in the Veganuary Workplace Challenge, encouraging their employees to try vegan in January and providing more vegan options in the workplace. Many business bosses led by example, personally taking up the challenge, including Marco Settembri, CEO of Nestlé Europe, and Phil Watson, Quorn Commercial Director (UK & Europe).

Reflecting on the 2021 campaign, Veganuary’s Head of Communications Toni Vernelli says:

“With the link between animal farming, the climate crisis and global pandemics making headlines nearly every day, we expected Veganuary 2021 to be the biggest yet but it exceeded all of our expectations. We applaud everyone who took part and encourage them to continue eating vegan food as often as possible. And we’re grateful to all of the businesses embracing Veganuary and making it easier for more people to eat more plant-based food more often.”

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