The last 12 months have seen an explosion in the number of exciting vegan products launching in the market, and remarkably many of these have been created by independent business entrepreneurs with a passion and drive for bringing their cruelty-free vision into the world.
With the British economy into steady growth again, and an election on the horizon, the vegan sector is a key area for new businesses aiming to flourish over the next few years.
With a reported 20% drop in sales of dairy products in supermarkets in 2014, there is clearly plenty of room on the shelves to fill for these exciting new businesses specialising in dairy-free products especially.
Coconut yoghurts, almond milk, dairy-free desserts, cashew cheese, hemp butter, coconut lattes and almond shakes are all the rage these days – witness the recent vegan BAFTA awards, and a string of A-list vegan celebrities including singer Beyoncé, snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan, heavyweight boxer David Haye, comedians Josh Widdicombe and Simon Amstell, together bringing the vegan lifestyle more kudos and glamour than ever before.
And where celebrities go, the rest of us follow, making sure that the new vegan businesses are not short of expanding markets and new clients. And one of Europe’s biggest vegan events VegfestUK Brighton (March 28th 29th at the Brighton Centre) has certainly witnessed a big rise in applications for stalls this year.
“It’s been incredible,” says Alan Lee, one of the VegfestUK organisers. “The phone hasn’t stopped in the office. Bookings have been piling in, and we’re already up to 200 bookings this year, compared to 135 in 2014. Many of them are new businesses with exciting new plant-based products looking to fill the gap left by the declining dairy trade. For vegans, it’s a dream come true that’s been waiting to happen for a long time.”
With an expected footfall of over 10,000 visitors over 2 days from all over the UK, VegfestUK Brighton also welcomes a large number of other thriving independent vegan businesses including several from abroad.
The event is sponsored by raw food snacks manufacturers Lifefood from the Czech Republic and vegan meat producers Dee’s Wholefoods from Ireland, plus others from Europe.
But it’s new UK firms that are coming thick and fast onto the vegan scene. Take Viva La Vegan for instance – a small vegan clothing company born from their love for animals and our planet, and a shining example of a young entrepreneur starting up their own business post-recession and pre-election.
They’ll be launching their new upbeat, trend-aware T-shirts and accessories at Brighton – one of many newbies at the show.
So, whatever the result of the general election and whoever steers the economy over the next 5 years, one thing is very certain – vegan businesses are on the rise, and the small vegan business owner has a lot to look forward to.
For more on VegfestUK Brighton, visit www.brighton.vegfest.co.uk