Unilever is encouraging retailers to merchandised plant-based foods next to mainstream lines to increase incremental sales in the category.

Andre Burger, the company’s vice president of foods, said the supplier was putting major investment behind promoting plant-based diets this year, as seen through its acquisition of Vegetarian Butcher and having recently launched Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo. 

Burger added for independent retailers to make the most out of this opportunity, they needed to site plant-based foods next to mainstream lines.

He said: “1% of the UK population is vegan, 4-5% vegetarian, and then 30-35% who are flexitarians. The people you should be looking to disrupt are that 30-35%, because vegans and vegetarians already know where to look for meat-free options – the flexitarians are those who you need to present an option to. Retailers can do this by placing a plant-based option next to a mainstream one to encourage them to pick the non-meat option.”

He added creating a plant-based/free-from bay was a good idea, but it missed out growth opportunities. “In 86 Tesco stores, they’re currently trialling siting the Vegan Mayo next to the regular option – independents can learn from this.”