TORONTO, CANADA — Vega, North America’s leading plant-based protein powder has launched in the UK, as consumer demand continues to drive the growth of plant-focused protein products.
The Canadian brand enters the UK’s burgeoning plant-based nutrition sector off the back of strong sales in the US where it is recognised as a pioneer in the plant-based natural health and performance products category.
According to Vega’s UK Marketing Manager Jacqui Grimsey, Vega’s UK arrival has been “long-awaited by its already strong UK fan base.”
Confident that now is the right time for the brand to expand into the UK market, she argues that
with the rise in consumer interest surrounding health and wellness, and in particular the growth in demand for “real, whole food ingredients that support an active lifestyle,” Vega’s sales potential is palpable.
According to a recent report by Mintel, “in the UK consumers spent £66 million on sports nutrition food and drink products in 2015, up by 27% from 2013 when sales stood at £52 million.” And, with the plant-based protein market set to grow exponentially over the next ten years, current data echoes her sentiment.
When it comes to sports nutrition, “at the heart of this strong performance is that the appeal of these products is expanding beyond the small pool of the most elite sportspeople and gym fans,” explains Emma Clifford, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel.
“The category is increasingly attracting ‘lifestyle’ users who see these products fitting in with a healthy, active lifestyle. Fuelling the shift towards the mainstream use is the growing availability and visibility of accessible snacks and drinks from sports nutrition brands,” she adds.
Similarly, the escalating interest in the so-called “flexitarian” approach, in which more consumers are adopting a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eating meat or fish, is driving growth in the plant-based market.
But, with Mintel’s data also highlighting a 257% rise in vegan claims in global food and drink launches between September 2015 – August 2016, will the increase in competition thwart Vega’s move?
Leading brands including Protein World, PHD Women and My Protein and emerging startups such as Innermost and Neat Nutrition have already established themselves as popular providers of plant-based protein powders in the UK, with new entrants popping up at a rapid pace.
However, with Vega’s distinctive product offering and opportunities to extend its line, the brand is well positioned to take on its peers and “capitalize on the favorable plant-based eating trends and upside potential that exist in the fast-growing $8.6 billion nutritional powders, bars and ready-to-drink beverages market,” argues WhiteWave Foods. The plant-based food and beverage manufacturer acquired Vega back in 2015 and has a track record for spotting game-changing category creators.
For now, Vega’s three-strong range of plant-based protein powders can be found in Whole Foods Market and Planet Organic in London, but with plans for the range to be sold at Holland & Barrett throughout the UK, as well as via Amazon, the brand doesn’t plan on entering the UK market quietly.
Backed by a heavyweight integrated marketing campaign including PR and social media, digital, shopper marketing and sampling, Vega is confident it can capitalise on the UK market’s potential and attract new shoppers to the sector.