Vegan and vegetarian foods will come under much greater scrutiny in the future as consumers seek reassurances about how products are produced, according to a data and analysis organisation’s research.

Analysing consumer behaviour, GlobalData suggests changing societal values regarding ethicality, sustainability and environmentalism are trickling down to product choice. 

It said vegetarian and vegan brands will need to meet consumers’ expectations of sustainability or risk being avoided by their key customer base.

Its research revealed that 49% of consumers say that how ethical, environmentally-friendly and socially responsible a product is often influences their product decisions.

Richard Parker, consumer analyst at GlobalData, said: “Vegans and vegetarians will realise that they are in a catch-22 situation – against meat for moral, health and sustainability reasons, but contributing to unsustainable arable agricultural demand, dubious ethics and climate change contribution. 

“Demand for vegan staples is, in some cases, pricing customers from third-world countries out of the market. Plus, a global supply chain means carbon output, which is at odds with the popular sustainable idea of local sourcing.

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“Veganism isn’t going to get a free pass from consumers once they begin to realise more widely how it is actually contributing to ethical and sustainable challenges elsewhere – outside the Western middle class health-and-wellness bubble.”

His colleague Lia Neophytou, a consumer analyst at GlobalData, added: “Consumers are increasingly curious about the journey that their food has taken from ‘farm to fork’, highlighting sustainable and ethical production methods as vital to engage audiences. 

“Claims such as ‘fair trade’, ‘cruelty-free’, ‘locally produced’, and ‘sustainably sourced’ are prominent in the sector, while particular relevance is given to how genuine and transparent brands are in their commitment to these sought-after credentials.”

Global Data suggests that as sustainability becomes “more of an urgent topic of conversation”, it can be expected that manufacturers will more seriously align their innovation with the sustainability and ethics mega-trend and its principles in future.

Neophytou added: “Sceptical consumers will seek deeper reassurances about how products are produced, which will drive manufacturers to consider where improvements in their supply chain can be made to improve their sustainability and ethics credentials.”

GlobalData is’s parent company.

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