Guild of Fine Food - How Independent Retail can get the most out of the 'Plant-based' market

Sustainable Kitchen’s Julie Cleijne advises on how to get the most out of the burgeoning plant-based market

If the record number of people signing up to Veganuary this month wasn’t enough to convince you that the plant-based movement is no longer a phase, then other factors such as the huge investment from large multinationals, and the increase in people adopting plant-based foods in lockdown surely point to this movement being firmly in the mainstream.

But when considering how to cater to these customers, we suggest incorporating other habits and trends that have emerged from lockdown life to ensure your plant-based retail strategy keeps your customers coming back. Here are our top three tips.

The kit

Staying in is the new going out! During lockdown, people sought comfort in food, followed recipes online, and watched live cook-alongs, then shared their home-made successes on social media. Pairing plant-based products with other ingredients and fresh fruit & veg, coupled with a recipe could help increase sales of multiple products. 

And don’t just limit kits to dinner. Working from home has become such the norm, that consumers no longer have the option to enjoy breakfast or lunch at a different eatery, or get their morning or afternoon coffee or tea fix from their favourite cafes on their commute or lunch break. Kits that include worktime snacks, teas, coffees and mini indulgences could prove effective. 

And remember that baking was a huge lockdown trend, with eggless and even flourless cakes proving popular experiments, so kits that indulge these interests could prove a winner.


Fears surrounding COVID-19 have shone a spotlight on factors such as building strong immunity, heart health and reducing excess weight. Best to keep in mind that just because a food product is plant-based, it does not necessarily mean it is healthy. Savvy consumers will be interested in products with ‘clean labels’, without overly processed ingredients. Consumers are increasingly looking for functional health benefits such as pre- or pro-biotics, fibre, protein, fermented foods, but also those that aid better sleep, digestion and relaxation, whilst still wanting as natural a product as possible.

There is also renewed interest in food from the sea in general, as a healthier, safer food choice, so consider stocking plant-based products containing ingredients such as healthy and sustainable seaweed.

Value for money

Price and value for money will be huge drivers as we enter a phase post-Brexit where food prices are expected to rise. With financial uncertainty, many consumers will be very strongly driven by price, resourcefulness and reduced waste. So creating a kit as part of a ‘special deal’ could attract many customers, as well as stocking products at different price points, and those that represent value for money and promote minimal wastage.

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