Woman plating up food at a dining room table
April 19, 2020

Are South African's Living On The Vedge?

I’m not Vegan but it seems like everyone else around me is.

Here at YOUKNOW, we see that the conversation around healthy eating habits peaks this time of year, and 2020 has sparked the spirited debate about Veganism.

Using Brandwatch’s brand new consumer research platform, we performed deep-listening on the conversations online around 4 healthy food lifestyles here in SA: Veganism, Vegetarian, Flexitarian and Plant-Based Lifestyles.

The first thing we noticed was certain sub-topics surrounding the healthy eating conversation. South Africans are begging the questions, ‘What is in my food?’ - ‘Where does this come from?’ - ‘Could the food I’m eating be a reason I’m getting sick?’ and ‘Are there better alternative ingredients’?

South African conversations around healthy eating

These questions are also having a ripple effect on the people around them. Those who may have never considered a plant-based diet are becoming more curious and giving healthier, better options a try.

How far has it gone? In 2019 there were over 77k mentions across the four main topics, from both adopters of the lifestyle and consumers researching the lifestyle.

Veg Word Cloud

Positive sentiment in conversations centered around #glutenfree, #egglesscake, #diabetic. This can give brands an indication that there is a market for alternative products to cater to these specific consumer needs. We also see that there is a positive connection between being diabetic and these alternative lifestyles.

Veg Neg Word Cloud

Animal products, climate change and Burger King reflected negative sentiment. This is an indication of some negativity towards Burger King in light of the release of their new plant based burger.

Burger King vegan burger comments

One company that has capitalised on this trend has been Beyond Meat which received over 1000 mentions in South Africa . Based in Los Angeles the company provides plant based meat alternatives. Their range offers anything from ground beef to sausages. The company’s offering has been well received by the public and fast food chains have also decided to cash in on this. McDonalds has partnered up with the brand to use them as their preferred vegan patty supplier.

South Africans mentions about Beyond Meat

In August 2019 we saw a spike in the conversation around Beyond Meat as there were talks that KFC was trialing a chicken alternative in their American stores. This led to excitement around the country in hopes that this might be an innovation coming to a KFC near. Locally the Spur group has also decided to join forces with Beyond Meat burgers as an alternative menu offering.

KFC partnering with Beyond Meat

As for retailers in South Africa Woolworths has led the pack as one of the first major retailers to stock these products on their shelves. However, it does seem like these products do not come in cheap. Something for retailers to keep in mind in order to make it sustainable for consumers.

South Africans question Beyond Meat prices

The bigger picture:

Alternative lifestyle adopters have heavily influenced the way we look at our food nowadays. The demand for better sourced and farmed products has never been more vocal. As a retailer/ brand, it becomes your responsibility to listen to your consumers and cater to this growing market.

Have the likes of Checkers, Woolworths, RCL Foods, Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods, Danone, Rialto, Promasidor made enough provision to accommodate these alternative lifestyles?

Want us to look at a specific sector? Let us know in the comments below.

*This data was analysed through Brandwatch Consumer Research, with the most volume of conversation coming from Twitter, for the period January 2019 - January 2020.