Vegetarian and Vegan Future Up For Sale

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Three major British based vegetarian food brands are up for sale as the world market for vegetarian and vegan foods heats up.

As Heinz announce that the vegetarian and vegan Linda McCartney brand is to join the list of vegetarian food brands looking for new owners, it seems certain that the vegetarian and vegan food market is about to see a big shake up.

Marlow foods the company behind mycoprotein meat replacement Quorn and Cauldron the UK’s top Tofu product manufacturer are also said to be up for grabs.

These companies could be ripe for a quick acquisition for someone with astute investment skills and who understand the real drivers behind the market despite the high price tags.

“For a team who truly understand the complex factors and aspirations behind the market for vegetarian and vegan foods and who have skills in innovative development these well known brands could be a key to change the world’s bleak future.” Says Tony Bishop-Weston from London Nutrition and Catering Consultants Foods For Life.

I honestly believe these companies have gone as far as they can easily go in their present format and that’s why they are up for sale.

It’s going to take a lot of joined up thinking and some serious head hunting to gather a team together that can deal with 21st century issues that these companies have been unable to really get their teeth into.

The major brands have dealt with consumers’ primary buying concerns. There’s no doubt that the products taste great, that was the first major hurdle and they’ve all cracked that. The other problems were availability and value for money and they’ve all fairly well cracked that too, vegetarian and vegan foods are all over the supermarket shelves like a rash.

Now they need to focus more on the consumers’ secondary buying preferences. There are many reasons why shoppers purchase vegetarian and vegan foods – it’s not as simple to market as the successful single issue Fair Trade campaigns or organic foods market.

Purchasers of vegetarian and vegan foods can do so for food intolerance or allergy reasons, health worries, animal welfare issues, religious reasons, environmental reasons, avoiding GM ingredients, humanitarian, fair trade and ethical concerns or a mixture of all of points to varying degrees.

Whilst the UK manufacturers have spent millions of pounds promoting the great flavour and taste of their products they have left all the aspirational reasons to buy vegan foods up to the NGO’s and charities such as the Vegan and Vegetarian Societies who have almost non existent budgets for marketing by comparison.

Even in their most important year, The Diamond Jubilee, 60 years since Donald Watson first invented the word vegan The Vegan Society allocated a total PR budget of only £2,000 for promotions.

So far the manufacturers have so far dodged all the other potential unique selling points of their products and in the process failed to convince not only the bulk of consumers but also caterers of all the solutions that vegan foods have to offer.

“Vegetarian products will also have to be reformulated to be significantly healthier” says London Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston, “with companies such as Kraft, Nestle, Mars and Cadburys looking at ways to remove hydrogenated fats from their products then the days of trans-fat rich vegetarian sausages looked upon as ‘health foods’ are numbered”

To ensure continued success the new owners of these vegetarian brands are encouraged to look at the Foods For Life 5 point plan:

1)    Encourage healthy eating with creative but simple nutritionally complete serving suggestions.

2)    Work closer with the vegetarian and vegan societies and government organisations such as the Food Standards agency to promote healthy eating.

3)    Work much more extensively with caterers to improve the offer of healthy vegetarian food in restaurants, hotels and hospitals.

4)    Reformulation of products to remove ingredients that cause market barriers and strive to include new ingredients that improve the nutritional content of the foods.

5)    Improve awareness about all the unique selling points and solutions that vegetarianism has to offer rather than just the taste and flavour.

“I hope we see real commitment rather than just venture capitalism as otherwise the investment needed will be a risky business. However, with the right new owners of these companies I can see within a few years peoples’ reaction to vegetarian foods will be not ‘why?’ but ‘why not!’” predicts Tony Bishop-Weston.

Editors Notes

Foods For Life Consultancy http://www.foodsforlife.org.uk/
New Cookbook - http://www.foodsforlife.org.uk/recipes/vegan-cookbook.html
Quorn - http://www.quorn.com/
Cauldron - http://www.cauldronfoods.co.uk/
Linda McCartney http://www.linda-mccartney.com/
Redwood Foods http://www.redwoodfoods.co.uk/
Food and Drink Federation http://www.meat-free.org.uk/
Vegetarian Society – http://www.vegsoc.org
Vegan Society - http://www.vegansociety.com

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Tony Bishop-weston
FOODS FOR LIFE
44 0 7944 068432
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