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Re-thinking the turkey: Changing Christmas dinners opening doors for vegan wine

Published:  06 December, 2018

It could be a cracking Christmas for vegetarian and vegan wine, according to new research published by the IGD.

It says while 65% of the country will tuck into a turkey this year, nearly one in 10 (9%) will opt for a vegetarian or vegan alternative to a traditional Christmas dinner.

“Although Christmas is very much wrapped up in tradition, we’re starting to see some new and interesting trends emerging in the run-up to the festive period,” said Vanessa Henry, shopper insight manager at IGD.

“In particular, and similar to a trend we’ve seen emerging over the past year or so, there is a greater focus on vegan or vegetarian options for the main Christmas meal centrepiece. Growing media and social media coverage, coupled with greater investment by both retailers and suppliers in these products, means more shoppers are considering these meat-free alternatives this year. Although some families have unique food traditions that they stick to every year with certain foods, Christmas can also be a time to experiment with new and different products.”

This follows a report by Waitrose which said 33.5% of the population are cutting down on – or cutting out – meat entirely, 21% are flexitarian, 9.5% are vegetarian and 3% are vegan. And according to the Vegan Society, the number of full time vegans in the UK is 542,000, with nearly half that number aged 15 to 34. Waitrose also says 2018 is the year that vegan food and drink “went mainstream”. And in 2017, Google reported that searches for the term ‘vegan’ had spiked by 90% since 2016.

The research represents a clear opportunity for producers of vegetarian and vegan wines to cash in this Christmas, and in order to do so they need to give it a big push, says Mark Schneider, head of UK sales at The Wine Rascals.

“Shout it from the rooftops, far and wide,” he said. Bottles that clearly label their vegetarian or vegan credentials “will help businesses, both the producers and the retailers, increase their appeal to consumers actively looking to make smarter, healthier and more sustainable choices.”

The IGD also said four in 10 shoppers claim to have an alcoholic drink before 12pm on Christmas Day. And it also said younger shoppers in particular are “planning on experimenting with vegan and vegetarian recipes this year, with 2% of 18-34-year olds planning to make vegan dishes and 2% vegetarian recipes on Christmas day.”

It also found that shoppers young and old are set to splash out to celebrate this year, spending an average of £90 on their main Christmas day meal, with a third of shoppers (32%) planning to spend over £100. Only 8% intend to spend less than £25.

It added that shoppers are increasingly starting to shop for their Christmas food and groceries early to spread the cost, with over half (54%) claiming they start their shopping well in advance of the big day, up from 45% in 2017 and 35% in 2016.

See this month’s Harpers for the full story on vegan wine.