What many may have doubted years ago is now a reality, as more and more locals turn away from their meat-based diets and opt for the greener daily option.

As the plant-based eating trend continues to gain momentum locally, grocery stores are doing all they can to supply the demand. Shops like Pick n Pay and Checkers have increased their range of plant-based offerings.

“Demand for vegan, plant-based, meat-free and dairy-free options continue to grow. Whether a customer is strictly vegan or just cutting down on meat and dairy, we are making sure we meet their needs,” said Willie Peters, general manager of marketing at Checkers to BusinessTech.

Checkers has experienced a substantial increase in interest for vegan and vegetarian options over the past 12 months with plans to further increase the offerings in 2020.

According to Pick n Pay, the interest in vegetarian and vegan aimed products has more than doubled in the last six months, as the grocer increased its product range to include dairy-free alternatives and vegan snack foods as well as whole meals.

Nicki Russell, Head of Innovation and Trend at Pick n Pay, says that their research shows more customers are opting for a ‘flexitarian’ diet which incorporates more plant-based options and less meat.

“What started as Meatless Monday has since expanded to include more and more days of the week. We’ve been working really hard to bring customers new and innovative local plant-based offerings to create a one-shop destination for customers wanting to adopt a more plant-based lifestyle.”

According to Russell, the store is now focusing on offering customers more vegan and vegetarian variety.

“We have more on-the-go snacks and fresh plant-based convenience meal options such as our Bean and Corn Bites, as well as more indulgent plant-based items, like our frozen samosas and pies, and vegan chocolates. The new fresh Extra Firm Livewell Tofu and flavoured nut milks, both made by a local small supplier, are also proving very popular with customers,” says Russell.

This move comes with the expansion of popular vegan brands as well as a new eco-conscious Pop Live Green cleaning range, as customers are not only changing their eating habits but also their product choices to include more sustainable options.

Pick n Pay is also supporting Veganuary, a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to sign up and try being vegan for January. Since its launch in 2014, Veganuary has become popular with South Africans, with participation in the country up by over 600% in 2019 compared to 2018.

Brett Thompson from Veganuary South Africa says, “Pick n Pay has the ability to inspire millions of South Africans to eat a healthier and more sustainable diet. We approached them to join the initiative knowing that they were committed to bringing positive change and they saw Veganuary as one such way to help achieve this”.

According to Russell, Veganuary is perfectly in line with their customer wants and needs so it was easy to make the decision to join movement.

“Through our Livewell movement – which includes incorporating more easy-to-read labels for smarter food choices – we want to encourage customers to pick one small thing that can help them live a healthier life. Incorporating more plant-based meals is a way to do so. The interest in new plant-based products continues to grow and customers can look forward to even more innovation in this space over the next few months.”

As South Africa takes more steps towards living healthier and more sustainably, the number of vegans and vegetarians are increasing, ensuring the future will be a greener one.

Picture: Pexels

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