‘Veganism is not a threat – it could be an opportunity’

Glanbia does not see veganism as a threat to its business – but instead views it “through a lens of opportunity”, according to the group’s managing director Siobhan Talbot.

At Glanbia plc’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) earlier today, Talbot gave an optimistic view of the trend when asked during the questions and answers session what sort of threat veganism poses to the company.

The managing director said that Glanbia actually views veganism as very complementary to dairy, seeing possibilities for opportunity within the trend.

Talbot reinforced the bold point by referencing specific market research conducted among consumers in North America last year, highlighting that – ultimately – it is the choice of consumers.

She conceded that some consumers are very clear in their lifestyle choices as vegans, but highlighted that the majority of consumers were more flexible between vegan diets and non-vegan diets.

Such consumers, also known as ‘flexitarians‘, find both diets complementary and are happy to use both plant-based and dairy-based sources of protein, Talbot noted.

Viewing this as very complementary within the Glanbia Nutritionals business, the managing director also pointed out that the company has a “considerable” non-dairy portfolio.

Amazing Grass

One of Glanbia’s most recent acquisitions, Amazing Grass, was highlighted as key to taking advantage of this – as it is a plant-based brand that fits well within the performance nutrition division.

Glanbia chairman Henry Corbally also commented on the topic of veganism, noting that the company does not see the point of confrontation and believes that it is the wrong attitude to have.

He said that, with the global growth of a middle class and a continued uptake of western diets, dairy consumption will rise as countries develop.

To ‘lock horns’ with militant vegans on media might not be the best look for either the company or the sector, the chairman said, adding that dairy is a clean, nutritious food that Glanbia is proud to stand behind.

Unless a fight is brought directly to the company, conflict is the wrong approach to take, Corbally concluded.