SPOTLIGHT ON THE UK: Indulgent Plant-based Holiday Foods Launched in 2022

Festive plate, symbolising plant-based festive product launch

Many well-known brands have introduced fantastic vegan festive fare this season. While sales of plant-based foods worldwide have plateaued or dipped in recent times, they're not going away. So, it's no surprise to see some really interesting ideas this holiday season.

“Tis the season to be jolly”, for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike, and the celebrations are always helped along by lashings of festive food. Well, this year there’s a positive mountain of new plant-based products on offer. The big supermarkets have all launched tempting plant-based treats.

For example, Marks & Spencer offers sumptuous festive fare that includes its attention-grabbing vegan Reindeer Bao Buns. With its signature Plant Kitchen range, it takes a tour through plant-based world cuisine, including the likes of No Lamb Shawarma, en route to Christmas options, such as its newly launched Stuffed Vegan Turkey Joint.

Sainsbury’s is also rocking the vegan Christmas food market with a lavish range including its newly launched No Turkey Crown with Sage and Onion Melts, from its Taste the Difference range.

Not to be outdone, Waitrose is going all out with its vegan Christmas fare, offering such treats as a Jewelled Roast with a Fruity Centre, garnished with apricots, cranberries and chestnuts. While its global vegan taste sensations include Thai Style No Fishcakes, made with jackfruit.

Meanwhile, Aldi’s budget-friendly vegan Christmas offerings include its new, appropriately luscious-sounding, No Beef Wellington. Morrisons also offers a plant-based Christmas range to impress, not least of all with its maple and orange glazed No Gammon Joint. And Tesco pulls out all the stops with its ‘Plant-powered Christmas range’. The plant-based festive food market is certainly an important one to crack and Asda is recognizing this with a wider range than ever before, offering a 97-product vegan Christmas range.

These big brands have learned that to attract consumers and keep them they need to promise indulgent new taste sensations and deliver on these claims.

What’s next for plant-based? Get the latest behavioral, social, and market  insights to make your plant-based products a success. Download the whitepaper.

It’s All About Indulgence

At this time of year, particularly, people want a little indulgence to brighten the dark winter nights and help them celebrate. This year, with the global recession, it may need to be on a budget, but your plant-based festive product launch can’t be lacklustre. Where plant-based foods are concerned, indulgence is a key element to attract consumers throughout the year.

This factor has been found to be particularly appealing to flexitarians – those who consume plant-based products but aren’t 100% vegan. According to ProVeg International, brands should focus on indulgence to attract flexitarians, who provide the biggest market for plant-based foods. By appealing to them, rather than just vegans, you could access a market over 10 times bigger. Data suggests that indulgent descriptions on packaging rose by 34% between 2019 and 2021, indicating that brands are increasingly targeting flexitarians in this way.

PRS IN VIVO research has also identified that 82% of consumers consider taste a key purchase driver and offering the most indulgent flavors should be a top priority. Our research also highlighted that consumer plant-based food behaviors are fuelled by nostalgia for comfort food and a desire for indulgence.

With this in mind, plenty of individual brands have introduced indulgent plant-based festive fare this year. For example, OGGS is offering vegan-friendly Luxury Handmade Mince Pies, laced with brandy, to keep many happy this festive season. Violife has also launched a delicious celebration vegan cheeseboard, with a “new to market” blue cheese, for Christmas, so no one needs to miss out on the festive cheese tradition.

No Missing Out

For plant-based products to succeed beyond Christmas, it’s important to promote the idea that, with your product, consumers won’t be missing out in any way by eating plant-based food. This was another factor identified by ProVeg International’s research as key to success, as it highlighted that flexitarians, in particular, don’t want to feel like they’re missing out.

This can be a particular obstacle at this time of year, as there is a cultural tradition of big meat eating at major festivals, which presents a danger of consumers feeling like they're missing out if they eschew meat. However, this barrier can be overcome by offering consumers great full-flavored alternatives, that mean no one needs to feel like they are missing out.

ProVeg International’s research also identified that familiarity is important to flexitarians where plant-based products are concerned. So, products that resemble and taste like the meat alternatives, such as burgers and, in the case of festive food, table centrepieces, such as turkey, are likely to do well.

The free from and vegan chocolate brand NOMO (No Missing Out) perfectly embodies this idea, and is offering a scrumptious vegan chocolate reindeer, with either a cookie dough or orange truffle flavor center. So, no vegan or flexitarian chocoholics need have any fear of missing out.

A Plant-based Product is for Life, Not Just for Christmas

As the seasonal slogan goes, a plant-based product “… is for life, not just for Christmas”. While it’s important to succeed with your plant-based festive product launch, it’s essential to ensure your vegan and vegetarian products fly off the shelf year-round.

In fact, with the approach of January, you will have a whole new cohort of consumers to target, as many people will be considering trying veganism for the first time, with the Veganuary campaign. This annual initiative, which encourages people to try veganism for the month of January, saw close to 610,000 participants take part in the 2022 event. So, you might want to up your game in time.

This is a great opportunity for brands to win new customers, with delicious plant-based products. If your products are good enough, you might even win ongoing loyal customers, either as committed vegans or as flexitarians. However, to achieve this success, it’s essential to get expert assistance.

In the increasingly crowded plant-based food marketplace, it’s vital to ensure your packaging is perfect, to cut through the noise of competition. Research has shown that 70% of consumers form their impression of a brand based solely on the packaging and 64% say they buy products off the shelf if they like the packaging, without researching it. Our innovative AI Pack Screener solution harnesses state-of-the-art technology and human expertise to deliver accurate insights that can help your product packaging stand out from the crowd.

Our range of invaluable services also includes our Product Experience solution. It allows us to test, tweak, and validate new recipes with consumers, giving you the human advantage that makes your next product launch a success.

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Olivier BLANCHET - CEO at PRS IN VIVO avatar