Businesses should avoid vegan or vegetarian labels in a bid to maximize sales, says Bruce Friedrich, the Executive Director of non-profit organization Good Food Institute [GFI].
“We recommend companies avoid any ‘v’ word and focus instead on the health value of the product, the protein content, and so on,” Friedrich told industry outlet FoodNavigator.
GFI works with scientists, investors, entrepreneurs, and food marketers to make the food more sustainable by promoting plant-based alternatives.
The ‘v’ words
Friedrich explains: “Labeling a product ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ is taken to mean it is only for vegans or vegetarians.
“My guess is that if ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ represent distinct populations, then those would not be the most inclusive way to market a product.
“In terms of marketing, ‘plant-based protein’ seems to be the current consensus term for reaching non-vegetarians.”
For example, US free-from manufacturer Gardein labels its products ‘meat-free’, while Beyond Meat uses ‘plant-based’ with a small ‘v’ on pack, and Hampton Creek doesn’t have a ‘v’ anywhere on its vegan Just Mayo.
In the UK, Tesco and Sainsbury’s new private label plant-based ranges both lack front-of-pack vegan branding or labeling.
At GFI’s suggestions, now other companies recently on the market or coming soon are avoiding ‘v’ words.
According to GFI’s Executive Director, brands are unlikely to lose out on vegan shoppers this way.
“Vegans are sure to find any appropriate product – they don’t need special packaging,” he says.
But the European Vegetarian Union disagrees, with Public Affairs Officer Ronja Berthold highlighting: “Vegan and vegetarian labels provide guidance and security and make it a lot easier to purchase plant-based products.”