The UK’s vegan population is growing exponentially and is expected to be boosted further in January as legions of curious consumers once again pledge to take the Veganuary challenge and go plant-based for the whole month.
According to Mintel, non-dairy alternatives now make up 14% of new product launches in the UK ice cream market, so it’s vital that independent operators also ensure their vegan customers are well catered for.
“We’re getting a lot more customers enquiring about vegan ice cream products,” says Henley Bridge’s Mark Eastman. “It’s not just a flash in the pan. Vegan ice cream accounts for 5-6% of sales at present, but this is predicted to rise to between 25% and 30% in the very near future.”
Here, Mark shares his tips for meeting demand for plant-based ice cream:
- Keep it simple by using Rubicone plant milk base mix (which is vegan) then add, sugar and water.
- To create different flavours, use Rubicone or Irca joygelato flavour pastes but always check that they have vegan classification.
- Offer at least two vegan flavours so there is a choice.
- Sorbet is vegan by default so don’t include that as a specific vegan option.
- Vegan ice cream can also go hand-in-hand with ‘dog ice cream’ – it’s is possible to use the same product just marketed differently! Dairy is bad for dogs but they love plant-based versions. Banana or mango are flavours that work well for humans AND canines.
- Unless you have a separate ice cream machine just for vegan versions, best practice is to deep clean your machine on Friday night then make vegan gelato and sorbets first thing on Monday morning. Be mindful about nut products too.
- Always check the labels on your toppings and sauces so you know which ones are vegan-friendly.
- Don’t leave yourself open to criticism. Be seen to segregate your vegan options from the other non-vegan pans by showing a physical barrier. Perspex can be used.
- You could also offer ready-made individual pots of vegan ice cream to avoid any cross-contamination.
- Over 580,000 people participated in Veganuary 2021.
- More than 825 new vegan products were launched for Veganuary 2021.
- People from 209 countries and territories took part.
- 40% of Veganuary participants plan to stay vegan.
- 75% of those not staying vegan are reducing animal products by 50% or more.
Visit: veganuary.com for more information and to access their free business support toolkit.