New products hit shelves as retailers respond to Veganuary trend

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New products hit shelves as retailers respond to Veganuary trend

With 2019 getting underway with Veganuary - a campaign encouraging people to go vegan in January and possibly for the rest of the year - there seems to be a feeling in the retail industry that plant-based foods will experience a boom in popularity this year.

Some of the biggest supermarkets have responded by releasing a range of new products that are entirely free from meat, dairy and animal-derived substances.

Retailers go vegan

Several big-name retailers are tailoring their product ranges to reflect the rising popularity of veganism, including Marks & Spencer, which recently launched its Plant Kitchen range, comprising dozens of fresh meals, salads, snacks and other products.

Customers can now buy vegan-friendly sourdough pizza, cauliflower popcorn and mushroom stroganoff from Marks & Spencer, as well as coleslaw and potato salad that includes vegan alternatives to mayonnaise.

Product development director April Preston said: "This is the year we'll truly see plant-based food go mainstream.

"We're thrilled we've created a range which tastes as good as you'd expect from M&S, but is also vegan-friendly, so finally people don't have to compromise on taste."

Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Iceland have also expanded their own-label ranges with vegan pizzas.

Perhaps most notably of all, high street bakery chain Greggs has jumped on the bandwagon with its vegan sausage roll, which attracted a lot of attention on social media.

Last year, more than 20,000 people signed a petition by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals calling on Greggs to create a vegan alternative to its traditional sausage roll.

The company responded by launching a product with a bespoke Quorn filling, puff pastry made with vegetable oil and no milk glaze.

Roger Whiteside, chief executive of the chain, said the food retail industry has recently witnessed a clear increase in demand for vegan and vegetarian products.

He continued: "We have been trying to develop a vegan version of our famous sausage roll for some time now. It has not been easy but our taste panel customers all love this one, so we have decided to launch it as our contribution to Veganuary."

A sign of things to come?

Veganuary, the charity behind the campaign encouraging people to go vegan, recently celebrated 225,000 sign-ups to its initiative and also visited the Houses of Parliament to address an all-party parliamentary group on veganism and vegetarianism in Britain.

Its main aim was to call on politicians to support a "plant-based parliament for January 2020".

Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns and the Green Party's Baroness Jones of Moulescomb have both signed up to Veganuary, while Green MP Caroline Lucas recently called for a 'meat tax' in the UK.

Rich Hardy, head of campaigns at Veganuary, noted that the public appetite for everything vegan "continues to skyrocket", but government policy and party leadership have not reflected this trend.

As well as improving public health, Mr Hardy pointed out that reducing meat and dairy consumption could help to "avert catastrophic climate change".