Simon Moriarty
Simon is the EMEA Director of Trends, responsible for content, client servicing and commercial support across the region.

Ahead of World Vegan Day (1st of November), we highlight the latest and most innovative social and environmental initiatives from vegan brands in the US and Europe.

Plant-based Social Justice (US)

Impossible Foods has embarked on a new partnership with Colin Kaepernick-founded social justice organization Know Your Rights Camp. Kaepernick founded the Know Your Rights Camp in the San Francisco Bay Area with the mission of “empowering Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization, and leadership.” 

Oakland-based meat alternative start-up Impossible Foods kicked off the partnership by donating its plant-based meat to food truck Al Pastor Papi for distributing meals in the Bayview District and also to Marin Food Bank to distribute additional meals to communities in need. Impossible Foods will also donate to Know Your Rights Camp’s events in LA and NYC and plans to broaden the company’s donor efforts to other social justice organizations, too.

Why it matters

Impossible Foods‘ initiatives should be noted for how they are multi-layered. The company is getting involved with local organizations fighting food insecurity and doing so through the company’s key product: food. This should be the first and most salient way for brands to get involved with socially responsible initiatives. Impossible Foods then takes on the next step of taking action financially and doing so through a locally founded organization but also broadening it to other regions, which is important since Impossible Foods is a nationally available product – companies should take responsibility in coordination with their market presence. The dedication to more social justice partners also signals that Impossible Foods is not done yet and will continue to advocate for food security, climate justice, and more. The multifaceted, multi-layered approach that is grounded in localism and a brand’s best modes of impact is most likely to be an effective strategy.

What’s next?

We know that localism has been an increasingly popular behavior and, due to COVID-19’s impact on small businesses, the Mintel Trend Driver Surroundings illustrates how consumers have become more focused on supporting their local communities. This is directly affecting consumer perceptions of CSR now and going forward it’s where company actions impacts will commonly be assessed.

From Waste to Ice Cream (Finland) 

K-Group retail chain and Suomen Jäätelö have partnered to create a vegan banana ice cream from leftover bananas.

Overripe bananas that are no longer suitable for store shelves are collected from several stores in the Helsinki metropolitan area in a biogas van.

Why it matters

Reducing the environmental impact of food waste has a lot of potential as consumers are willing to spend money on solutions. Brands are finding new ways to use food waste with innovative collaborations. Consumers value saving food as it is simple to understand. Food waste is being used to make other food like bread and beer, but also for car parts, fragrance for personal care items and candles. Consumers also look for more plant-based foods and vegan alternatives, for health, ethical and environmental reasons.

What’s next?

As mentioned in Mintel’s Trend Driver Surroundings, as reducing consumption and waste become critically important to consumers, utilising waste ingredients will become standard practice for brands. To establish working supply chains, brands will seek to collaborate with other local companies. In addition to products made from waste foods, vegan and plant-based alternatives will replace meat and dairy products in consumers’ diets as these products shift to occasional luxuries. Partnerships between categories and even industries will lead to increased innovation in using waste materials and more ways for brands to help consumers live sustainably.

Recyclable Wine Cans (UK)

Recently launched, HUN is a vegan, Fairtrade wine that comes in a recyclable can.

The brand offers three varieties of South African wine: a Sauvignon Blanc, a rosé and a low-calorie slightly sparkling rosé. All are vegan-friendly and the brand claims to be the UK’s first Fairtrade wine in a can.

Why it matters

Consumers are seeking brands that align with their values and beliefs which is pushing many brands to highlight their eco or ethical credentials. In fact, nearly three in five UK adults feel that food and drinks brands should use packaging that can be recycled, according to Mintel research on food packaging trends. Younger generations in particular are drinking less alcohol as they are more health-conscious and embracing vegan products for this reason, and environmental concerns. At the same time, society has become less formal so eating and drinking on the go or in public is a norm. With the pandemic causing consumers to spend more time socialising outside, products that are designed to be enjoyed in this setting, especially those that are targeted at the health- and eco-conscious consumer, are highly appealing.

What’s next?

As discussed in Mintel’s Trend Driver Value, purposefulness and ethical business philosophy will rise to the top as consumers seek greater meaning from their purchases. With younger generations fuelling this movement, we will see brands increasingly showcasing what they stand for as much as the products or services they sell. As vegan-friendly items increasingly become a standard expectation from consumers in many regions and across categories, more brands will launch products that give consumers this option. Brands will need to prioritise sustainability and ethical business practices, from packaging to ingredient sourcing, in order to appeal to consumers and remain credible.