Does promoting plant-based products in Veganuary lead to increased sales, and a reduction in meat sales? A natural experiment in a supermarket setting

Public Health Nutr. 2022 Nov;25(11):3204-3214. doi: 10.1017/S1368980022001914. Epub 2022 Sep 8.


Objective: To explore changes in plant-based and meat product sales during and after implementation of a multi-component in-store intervention implemented by a major UK food retailer. Secondary objectives included exploring differences by store format and area affluence.

Design: The intervention increased the visibility, accessibility, affordability and availability of a selection of plant-based products. Unit sales of plant-based and meat products during the intervention (January 2021) were compared with pre- (November 2020) and post-intervention (February and March 2021). Non-meat product sales were assessed as a control. Negative binomial mixed models were used to explore sales changes and differences by store format or affluence.

Setting: The intervention was applied in a real-world supermarket setting during Veganuary.

Participants: Stores that applied the full intervention (n 154) were included for analysis. Weekly sales data for each store were obtained from the retailer.

Results: Average weekly unit sales of plant-based products increased significantly (57 %) during the intervention period (incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1·52 (95 % CI1·51, 1·55)). Plant-based product sales decreased post-intervention but remained 15 % higher than pre-intervention (IRR 1·13 (95 % CI 1·12, 1·14)). There was no significant change in meat sales according to time period. The increase in plant-based product sales was greatest at superstores (58 %), especially those located in below average affluence areas (64 %).

Conclusions: Results suggest that increasing visibility, accessibility, affordability and availability of plant-based products led to increased sales, with evidence of lasting effects. No significant changes in meat sales were observed. Variation according to store format and area affluence indicates targeted intervention approaches are needed.

Keywords: Behaviour change; Food retail; Impact evaluation; Intervention; Meat reduction; Sustainable diets; Veganuary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Commerce*
  • Food Preferences
  • Food Supply
  • Humans
  • Meat
  • Supermarkets*