Vegan expansion: Australia’s Woolworths and Coles striving to meet soaring consumer demand
This comes as no surprise given that Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market globally according to Euromonitor, and is also the top ranker in terms of global veganism popularity according to Google Trends data.
“We are seeing a trend where more of our customers are embracing meat alternatives and introducing vegetarian and vegan-friendly options into their weekly diets, including adding plant based foods that don’t compromise on taste, quality or price,” said Woolworths Senior Nutritionist Natalie Chong to Canstar Blue.
“This is not to say that customers are becoming strictly vegan or vegetarian, but they are more conscious of adding more vegetables and plant based foods into their diet as an additional source of nutrients when they can.”
A Coles spokesman also said that the supermarket chain had seen ‘significant increase’ in demand for vegan and vegetarian food products, with its chilled health range seeing growth in the double digit zone.
Coles launched its own-brand frozen vegan ready meals just mid-last year, which included items such as gluten-free chillis and curries
Even before this, Coles had been showing increasing focus in the vegan/vegetarian arena, with some 83% more vegetable products launched in 2017 than in 2015, according to Mintel.
Kathleen Kennedy, Mintel Global Food and Drink Analyst told FoodNavigator-Asia that this was in response to rising consumer demand.
Continued growth expected
In a separate statement, Woolworths stated that continued growth is expected for the vegan market.
“Every indication tells us this category will only continue to grow and we’re focused on building a vegan range for our customers that is high quality, convenient and affordable,” said the company.
Chong added: “We have seen a double digit increase in demand for vegan products in the past year, and are working to create even more choice and variety for our customers.”
Big brand vegan offerings
Both Woolworths and Coles have their own vegan products, but also offer wide ranges of vegan foods from other big brands.
Coles is one of the main retailers for the Beyond Meat Burger, which it sells in its New South Wales stores, and is looking to expand nationwide if demand calls for it.
Woolworths’ vegan range is mostly marketed under its Macro brand, but it has also partnered with major brands like Tofurkey and MyLife vegan cheese.
Woolworths took things up a notch in 2013 when it launched its Metro shop concept, a smaller store with a health emphasis as well as organic and vegan products. There are currently some 50 of these stores across East Australia.
Coles is looking to follow in this success with plans to launch its own convenience stores with a more health-based and plant-based focus, dubbed Project 535.
Some 120 of these ‘boutique’ convenience stores are planned over the next few years. Coles CEO John Durkan told The Australian that these were expected to “tap into emerging customer trends of healthy eating and increased convenience.”
Although the first store was expected to launch in Melbourne late last year, as of time of publishing no news of the launch has yet been announced.