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FMCG and retail capability specialist Bridgethorne is urging retailers and suppliers to come together in an ideation process to create an industry response to the dramatic fall in demand for vegan food products.

This follows the news that revenues at Beyond Meat, the American producer of vegan food products, had fallen by nearly 31% in the quarter to the end of June compared with the year before are reflecting a move by shoppers to opt for lower-priced animal protein over plant-based alternatives due to cost-of-living pressures presents a challenge for both retailers and suppliers used to a category.

And what is happening at Beyond Meat is not an isolated case. Meatless Farm recently made its 50-strong workforce redundant and went into administration; Oatly has withdrawn its dairy-free ice cream in Britain; Nestle pulled two of its plant-based brands from shops in the UK due to a lack of demand and also announced it was pulling its plant-based Garden Gourmet and Wunda brands from retail in the UK and Ireland, following lacklustre sales; Heck cut its vegan range from ten products to two, whilst drinks company Innocent has also removed its dairy-free milk range.

And yet, this follows a report earlier this year by Straits Research that the UK vegan food market was growing considerably, largely driven by increased health awareness. It said that 40% of UK consumers wanted plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy, with the UK vegan food market growing overall at a rate of 9.58%.

So, how can retailers and suppliers come together to address such a seismic shift in what was one of the highest growth categories? Gina Overton, Director of Bridgethorne, says that a collaborative ideation process can build both strategic and tactical commercial, category, shopper and channel opportunities as well as addressing market changes of mutual significance to both retailers and suppliers.

“An effective ideation process can help suppliers and retailers collaborate to address situations like this as well as to unlock joint opportunities in other areas and develop category and activation plans,” explains Overton.

“We have already seen in other areas how the ideation experience and process has enabled the development of long-lasting collaborative ways of working between both retailer and supplier. In bringing supplier and retailer decision makers together, they can unlock category building initiatives and co-create strategic key drivers and tactical ideas for mutual benefit.”

The Ideation Workshop methodology from Bridgethorne enables creative development of sometimes award-winning ideas and helps to embed a partnership approach between retailer and supplier to category development.

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