The vegan drinks revolution - Part 2

man reaching for a drink in a shop

Whether a drink is vegan by accident or design could arguably be a moot point if it hasn’t been given official accreditation.

"Many beverages, including soft drinks and types of alcohol, may be ‘accidentally vegan’ but this should be taken lightly, as the only way to know if something is 100% vegan is through external accreditations such as the Vegan Trademark,” says Louisianna Waring, senior insight and policy officer at the Vegan Society. “Registering with the trademark means ingredients, manufacturing and processing have all been checked to adhere to high vegan standards. As there is currently no legal definition to the term ‘vegan’, brands are free to use it on product packaging without going through thorough checks – hence we would always recommend checking for a third-party vegan certification.”

On top of this, there’s even more opportunity for alcoholic drinks producers to exploit the lack of requirement for vegan certification since they’re not currently required to provide ingredient lists on packaging.

It appears as if a growing number of companies are seeing the importance of the trademark, however. “In all product categories we are seeing a rise in trademark registrations, and as of September 2021, there are over 3,600 beverages registered with the Vegan Trademark globally,” says Waring.

PUTTING VEGAN DRINKS ON THE SHELF

As for what the future may hold from a retailing perspective, the consensus is that integration of vegan and non-vegan products side by side on shelves is the very least a business can do.

“I think we’re almost at that tipping point where it needs to be more obvious if something isn’t vegan than if it is,” says Fungtn’s Henderson. “For most drinks now you would expect them to be vegan, and if they’re not, it needs to be really obvious why they’re not.”

Waring points to Marks & Spencer as an excellent example of what a retailer should be doing. “A few years ago Marks & Spencer had shelves dedicated to its vegan wine, then in 2019 it took it further and said it was ensuring all of its own-brand wine would be vegan by 2022,” she says. “It shows how far the industry has come in just a few years.”

With concern and column inches about climate change ratcheting up, the growth of vegan drinks is likely to continue indefinitely. “Vegan drinks will be the norm rather than the exception,” says Girelli. “There is no plan B.”

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