‘Veganuary’ loses popularity this year as sales of meat-free alternatives fell by 5%

The ‘Veganuary’ challenge, which encourages people worldwide to eat vegan for the month of January, lost popularity this year in Ireland as sales of meat-free alternatives fell by 5.2% this year compared to last.

Despite the UK non-profit organisation that drives the cause stating that 582,538 people worldwide signed up to the challenge this year compared to 400,000 in 2020, according to Kantar, ‘Veganuary’ took “a bit of a backseat” with 15,000 fewer Irish households purchasing meat-free alternatives last month.

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar for the period ending January 24 released today (Monday, February 8) show that take-home grocery sales grew by 16.8% over the first four weeks of 2021 as Ireland marked a full month of lockdown restrictions.

It was a record-breaking month for online, as over one in 10 Irish shoppers bought groceries through digital channels.

Irish shoppers balance new year health-kicks with beating lockdown blues

Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, said that January “wasn’t quite the fresh start we hoped for and ongoing lockdowns meant we continued to rely on supermarkets to keep us fed”.

“With restaurants and bars closed, Irish shoppers spent an extra €142.8 million on take-home groceries compared with last year,” Healy said.

Many of us like to kick off a new year with good intentions, but this January shoppers clearly struggled to balance the usual resolutions and health-kicks with a need to treat themselves and lift their spirits in lockdown.

“Veganuary took a bit of a backseat and 15,000 fewer Irish households purchased meat-free alternatives this month, driving a 5.2% decline in sales compared with last year.

“Some people did have a crack at ‘Dry January’, and sales of non-alcoholic beer soared by 84% year-on-year, but we didn’t deprive ourselves completely and sales of chocolate and crisps grew by 26% and 40% this month.”

Return of home-schooling

With the return of home-schooling in January, households with children spent €172 more on groceries.

Healy continued: “Parents and children once again found themselves working side-by-side at kitchen tables, and that means more mouths to feed throughout the day.

“Busy families turned to child-friendly breakfast and lunch options, parting with an additional €4.5 million on cereals, €3.9 million extra on yogurt and €7.8 million more on cheese.”

Brexit

January also brought uncertainty about the impact of Brexit, with “all eyes on our supermarket shelves following the deal”.

“We have seen some impact from the temporary disruption in the fresh fruit aisles and sales of tropical fruit, strawberries and soft fruit all fell this month as shoppers struggled to get their hands on imported produce,” Healy said.

But, there has also been a boost for homegrown Irish staples and sales of vegetables have increased by 18.5%.

Bolstered by their online presence, Tesco and SuperValu boosted sales by 16.5% and 18.5% respectively.

Lidl continued to see the strongest growth of all the retailers and grew sales by 25.6%, as shoppers spent an additional €77.9 million in store. Aldi held a 11.3% share of the market this period, with its success driven by shoppers adding more items to their baskets.

Dunnes is top of the table with the largest share of the market this period at 22.6%, as visitors to the grocer continued to spend the most in the store.