Elena Orde, communications and campaigns officer at The Vegan Society, said: “These businesses are showing the way the market is going – vegans need to be catered for, and those who fail to recognise this, risk missing out on a growing segment of the market.

WHAT ABOUT VENDING? But what does this all means for vending? Well some suppliers believe the popularity of free from and veganism is fuelling growth in the vending sector. Healthy snacking on the whole has enjoyed a bumper year with growth of 37.5 per cent in value and according to healthier snacking brand Eat Real, this reflects the choices that consumers are making. Increasingly consumers are influenced by, and understand the benefits of, a free from diet and want to be able to access their snacks of choice anytime, anywhere at home, at work and at play. Eat Real sales manager, Simon Roberts, says the dramatic and

recent rise in veganism and flexitarianism (also referred to as casual vegetarianism) means a major new vending market is emerging for those operators prepared to add healthier snacking to their offering. Eat Real is one example of a supplier offering vegan friendly

snacks in vending sized packs. Simon explains: “Being free from all 14 declarable allergens, our snacks are totally safe to dispense with no risk of cross-allergy contamination if they’re then eaten in the workplace or in public spaces. That’s good news for consumers and it means worry-free vending for operators.” Eat Real’s vending range comprises Hummus Chips, Lentil Chips, Quinoa Chips and Veggie Straws. The Hummus and Lentil Chips also contain 40% less fat than traditional potato crisps and the Veggie Straws 30% less, with the Lentil Chips and Veggie Straws containing no added sugar. All are suitable for vegan, Kosher and Halal diets. Simon adds: “As consumers experiment with the ever-growing

range of free from products available today, they’re realising that they deliver big time in terms of taste, texture and health benefits – and this is only going to drive long-term growth.” London-based healthy snacks company Abakus Foods has

introduces its small pack Chocolate Coated Red Dates which fit well into vending machines and are also ideal for the vegan palatte.

Helen Wang, Abakus Foods’ founder and director said: “The vegan lifestyle is a trend that is growing rapidly and becoming mainstream. Also, the free from market is booming as people become well educated about their individual food intolerances and what to avoid. “The quest for good nutrients, natural foods and a sustainable lifestyle all play a crucial role in our customers’ considerations. We want to open up the limited choices for them with our red dates snacks range – being vegan-friendly, gluten-free, 100% natural, sustainable, and bursting with nutrients helps empower our customers to follow their goals and be their best self.”

VEGAN CERTIFICATION In order to make it easier for vegans to easily identify vegan friendly options, suppliers have the option of displaying the vegan symbol and there are some within vending who have already embraced the symbol. Damien Lee, CEO of Mr Lee’s Pure Foods, said: “After previous

experiences with using the gluten-free certifications provided by Coeliac UK, we opted to take on the Vegan Society certification to better advertise our products as vegan friendly. “The main reason in doing so is to show caterers across the globe, as it is an internationally renowned symbol, how easy it is to source our products and to verify their suitability. It’s no longer tricky to find tasty, nutritious vegan dishes, as all you have to do is look at the product, and then find the symbol.”

He continues: “The real key, however, is not only finding foods that are suitable, but finding options that are healthy. Just because someone is vegan, doesn’t automatically mean they’re healthy, as there are plenty of junk food vegan options out there. The same rules as in normal catering apply – find something great, check the ingredients, check the nutritional information, you know the rest. Good food is out there, and it’s now very easy to verify if it’s vegan-friendly, just use good old common sense and the back of the pack.” The rapid growth of the vegan sector is impossible to ignore. For operators it represents an opportunity to cater for an important emerging market and suppliers are following suit by adding a growing number of vegan friendly products to their ranges.

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