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British supermarket retailer Asda has just become the first in the U.K. to launch in-store vegan aisles that will display only 100% plant-based products. The move by the grocery chain comes as plant-based consumer interest and sales reach an all-time high around the world amid the pandemic, which has elevated concerns about health and sustainability.
Announced on Monday (September 21), Asda will be rolling out a dedicated vegan destination in its supermarket stores with two entire bays to display only plant-based products, making the chain the first retailer in the U.K. to do so. One bay will consist of of plant-based savoury products such as cooking sauces and condiments, and the other bay will contain vegan snacks and sweets.
We understand that customers want a quick and simple shopping experience, and this shouldn’t be restricted by dietary requirements.Sarah Thornewill, Buying Manager at Asda
Asda will also be adding more than 100 new plant-based product lines, which will appear on the dedicated vegan aisles, including the supermarket giant’s own label vegan meal pots and a range of other plant-based brands including Vego, two new exclusive plant-based Galaxy flavours, an exclusive Falafel Mix by Bosh and Mrs Crimbles.
“We understand that customers want a quick and simple shopping experience, and this shouldn’t be restricted by dietary requirements,” said Sarah Thornewill, Asda’s buying manager, in a press release.
“By merchandising all our vegan items together, we hope to save customers time and offer inspiration, whether for those following a plant-based diet, or those looking to reduce their meat consumption.”
The initiative comes amid surging consumer interest in plant-based products in the past months during the coronavirus pandemic, which has heightened awareness of food safety, health and sustainability and the dangers of the animal-based supply chain.
According to Asda’s own research conducted in partnership with Claro, nearly a fifth – 17% – of households in the U.K. are now either reducing their meat intake or following a plant-based diet, and searches for vegan products are now up 275% since last year on the supermarket’s online store.
By merchandising all our vegan items together, we hope to save customers time and offer inspiration, whether for those following a plant-based diet, or those looking to reduce their meat consumption.Sarah Thornewill, Buying Manager at Asda
The trend is observed globally, with a recent report highlighting data on Google Trends finding that the number of vegan search terms logged around the world so far in 2020 have surpassed the prior all-time high recorded in 2019. Surveys conducted in the U.S. and Hong Kong have also shown that the coronavirus has prompted consumers to actively reduce meat consumption and switch to a plant-based or flexitarian diet.
With veganism now firmly in the mainstream, it isn’t only Asda making moves to tap into the huge business opportunity. A recent report conducted by nonprofit FAIRR found that 40% of the world’s biggest food retailers and manufacturers now have dedicated plant-based teams to develop and sell new vegan food products.
Lead image courtesy of Asda.