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Veganuary: How to instil consumer confidence in plant-based products?

Veganuary: How to instil consumer confidence in plant-based products?

Manufacturers of plant-based products should prepare for increased scrutiny from retailers – according to global food safety certification experts, Lloyd’s Register – as consumer demand for vegan items looks set to continue in 2021.

This year’s Veganuary has seen record numbers of people sign up to try a vegan diet, reflecting huge growth for the plant-based market. With over 440,000 consumers looking to integrate plant-based foods into their diets in January, retailers are facing pressure to ensure they are keeping up with demand.

Already this year, Tesco has launched a Veganuary competition to win £1,000 in store, while most major retailers have launched new products to compete for further market share. However, as demand increases, added scrutiny is expected to rise on the integrity of the products and whether consumers can trust that plant-based items are manufactured in the appropriate environment, according to Lloyd’s Register.

Research in both the UK and US, conducted by Lloyd’s Register, highlighted the increased scrutiny that manufacturers of plant-based food face. In the UK, one in five consumers declared themselves to be ‘not confident at all’ or ‘very suspicious’ about claims vegan products do not contain meat. A similar survey of 1,000 US consumers found that 25% were either ‘not very confident’ or ‘not confident at all’ about claims made.

Kimberly Carey Coffin, global technical director at Lloyds Register, said: “For consumers to gain trust in plant-based food providing transparency is vital. This incorporates both product composition and production controls, including management of any potential cross contamination with animal-derived products or materials used in the production environment.”

“While we understand that consumer concerns over the manufacture and control of potential sources of materials of animal origin are misplaced, it is up to producers and retailers to provide this assurance. Internationally-recognised certification, such as the BRCGS Global Plant-Based Standard, is a great example of how manufacturers can substantiate that product claims are genuine.”

Lloyd’s Register became the first certification body approved to audit against the BRCGS Plant-Based Standard, launched in 2020. The standard provides a framework for manufacturers to assist manufacturers in the production of plant-based food, including a number of requirements to ensure products are free of animal originated material.

“Attaining certification against these standards in a time where production levels in this market are set to grow rapidly is crucial to ensure products achieve the quality, safety and transparency consumers expect. It is also important to ensure all companies across the plant-based supply chain are aware of such standards.”

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