Number of vegan trademarks jumps 128% in a year as trend for plant-based foods accelerates

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Number of vegan trademarks jumps 128% in a year as trend for plant-based foods accelerates

Number of vegan trademarks jumps 128% in a year as trend for plant-based foods accelerates

There was a 128% surge in new trademarks registered for vegan food in the UK last year, with 107 trademarks registered in 2019, up from just 47 in 2018 – with multinational businesses competing to file them.

The fast-growing vegan food category has attracted interest from large corporates over recent years, who are investing heavily in launching branded products into the market.

Among these were consumer goods giant, Unilever, which trademarked vegan ice cream and supermarket chain Lidl, which trademarked a range of vegan products including pastries and baguettes. Restaurant chains Honest Burgers and Leon were also among the UK companies to register trademarks last year, for items including meat substitutes and plant-based condiments.

Corporates are rushing to trademark the most attractive names for their vegan products and brands. For example, two different manufacturers in the UK are trademarking product names based on variations of “Beyond Butter”, “Beyond Cheese” and “Beyond Mince”.

The rapid expansion of the vegan food category is also spurring M&A activity in the sector with Upfield, the owner of Flora, acquiring the vegan cheese producer Violife for a reported €500m.

"There are now more vegan products on supermarket shelves than ever before. Multi-national corporations have identified this as a fast growing sector and are competing to register their trademarks with the aim of capturing and defending a share of the market. With a record number of people participating in Veganuary year on year, the trend towards vegan food shows no sign of abating anytime soon."

There were 600,000 vegans in the UK last year*, up from just 140,000 in 2014, with vegan food being one of the fastest growing food categories. Sales of meat free products rose by 40% to £816m last year and one in four** new food products launched was vegan. Manufacturers hope that continued growth in sales will allow them to achieve higher profit margins on these products than comparable non-vegan products.

The race to tap into the vegan market has expanded into the fast food sector. KFC sold one million vegan burgers during their first month of sales in January 2020*** whilst Greggs’ vegan sausage roll was a social media hit upon launch.

We predict that people making lifestyle choices and paying closer attention to their diet during lockdown, could lead many to incorporate more plant-based food into their diets, which would further boost the market.

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If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, or need any advice, please contact Daisy Divoka.

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*Vegan Society