What does the cultural shift of veganism mean for food manufacturers?

Since 2006, the UK has seen a 360% increase in people adopting vegan lifestyles. In response to this, it’s now more important than ever for manufacturers to ensure the integrity of vegan labelled products. We spoke with Real Staffing’s FMCG specialist Emily Mitchell to discuss the consequences of providing incorrect information for vegan products and how this is impacting recruitment.

The increase of vegan lifestyles in the UK

To meet the significant demand, retailers are producing more vegan products. With an increase in product innovation costs, the number of food manufacturers offering meat-free alternatives in an attempt to reach this market is rapidly growing. However, with a lot of this manufacturing taking place in the same factories as meat products, consumers are starting to question the ethics of these meat-free products.

As Emily Mitchell from Real Staffing’s FMCG division explains, “Having spoken with a number of managers over the last few months, they have flagged that veganism has become something much more apparent within the food industry. It appears it’s more of a cultural shift as opposed to a lifestyle fad and manufacturers are having to react quickly. Due to this, I’ve seen the need for interim NPD Managers and Interim internal auditors increase in order to keep up with competition.”

The integrity of retailers and manufacturers

One of the biggest priorities for retailers is ensuring they have their customer’s trust. 2013’s infamous horse meat scandal sparked a change in consumer behaviour within the industry. Since then, more consumers have been questioning the integrity of retailers and their suppliers. A company whose meat-free products are found to be contaminated with meat could see their brand facing long term reputational damage. This particular scandal proved to be a catalyst for a lot of people to make the change to a vegetarian or vegan diet. To tackle consumer concerns, manufacturers have had to increase their teams of quality assurance professionals.

The issues for manufacturers and retailers

When there’s an issue with mislabelled or contaminated products, retailers are typically the first to be blamed but the issue often lies with the manufacturers. As a result, retailers unsurprisingly expect manufacturers to compensate the cost of loss to the business. A product recall could cost anywhere upwards of £7M in lost revenue and reverse logistics, not to mention the cost to a brand’s reputation. It’s more cost effective now for manufacturers to employ skilled professionals to manage the engineering and quality assurance.

Have you felt the effects of an increase in demand of vegan products? Do you need additional engineers to assist with this demand? Contact us and speak to Emily at Real to help you match your demands.

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