There is an interesting issue about where should vegan food be located within a supermarket? Should it be in a separate section so that those who specifically want it, can find much of it co-located in a neat section, or should it be spread out across the store mingled in with non-vegan products – so more people will see it and buy it?
And what about meat alternatives? Nestled next to the meat products to tempt those who are open to trying something new, or in a section totally separate from any animals.
A separate section is particularly helpful for people who want vegan options, but who get a little lost amongst the plethora of labels, ingredients, searching through the shelves and aisles. Every vegan will know what this feels like!
Personally I prefer a separate section because I like to avoid looking at the animal products, especially meat and fish – so I would never walk down those aisles to see if there were any vegan foods lurking because quite honestly it makes me nauseous.
However, I can absolutely see the benefit of displaying vegan products and meat alternatives alongside their animal based rivals on the shelves, because it is at that point of choice that people may be curious and willing to try them – those same people may not be motivated or go to the effort of looking for the vegan section, but they may pick up the vegan burgers, sausages or other products if they are within reach through their normal shopping routes.
Generally speaking, Vegans talk about food …. a lot. We often seek out new foods, new restaurants and recipes – so we are more likely to search the shelves for vegan products, but what about all the non-vegans who would happily buy the plant based products if they knew they existed. The more plant based options that exist, the more people CAN buy them, the more demand is created and then the more companies will supply.
Ideally supermarkets would locate products in BOTH places, but with shelf space at a premium, that is unlikely to be a popular commercial choice.
I recently had the privilege to have a conversation with Derek Sarno, a man that Tesco headhunted to be their Director of Plant Innovation and within seconds it was clear to me, that he was a guy with passion and authenticity. When I later heard him give a talk, he spoke about how the Tesco Executive team genuinely support of increasing plant based foods and drive his part of the Tesco business – it struck me just how much the world is changing towards vegan food.
Some vegans are sceptical that big companies are just adding vegan and plant based foods purely for commercial reasons rather than caring about the animals, and I say whether or not that is the motivation – bring on the vegan options!
The more choices there are for everyone the better, we just need to know where to find them.
What do you think?