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Going vegan: best vegan stocks and how to invest

The appetite for vegan food has increased in many countries, with businesses rushing to get a piece of the proverbial cake. Discover vegan companies and find out how to get exposure to their shares.

About the vegan market and how much it’s worth

Many food products are naturally friendly to vegans, like vegetables, which means the vegan market is already large. The global vegan market is said to have reached a value of $17 billion in 2020 and is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.4% between 2021 and 2026.1 Global management consulting firm Kearney predicts that the sales of plant-based meat alternatives will grow annually by 20% to 30% in the coming years.2

In comparison, the global meat market is thought to be nearing $1 trillion in worth, meaning that there’s still plenty of room for the vegan market to grow.3 But, there’s an expectation that cultured meat might overtake plant-based meat products as the number one alternative to meat in coming years.

Global meat consumption: share of market (%)

2025 2030 2035 2040
Total value $1.2 trillion $1.4 trillion $1.6 trillion $1.8 trillion
Cultured meat 0% 10% 22% 35%
Novel vegan replacement meat 10% 18% 23% 25%
Conventional meat 90% 72% 55% 40%

Source: Kearney2

The adoption of vegan food is being driven by a number of key factors. Veganism is particularly popular among younger generations, and plants are regarded as a more efficient way of feeding the world’s growing population – set to rise from 7.6 billion to around 10 billion by 2050.2

But the main reason for the success of vegan alternatives to meat has been its reception from meat-eaters. When hype was at its peak, vegetarianism was polarising: you either ate meat or you didn’t – if you enjoyed meat, vegetarian alternatives were off the menu.

But veganism, partly because of how it links to climate change and as a result of growing awareness of the possible health benefits, is more fluid. In fact, a large number of people that consume meat alternatives aren't strictly vegan, but are simply trying to reduce their meat intake. These people are often called ‘flexitarians’ (a semi-vegan or vegetarian diet) or ‘reducetarians’.

The Vegan Society put a number on it, sharing that non-vegans in the UK accounted for 93% of meat alternative sales in 2019. With the likes of ‘meat-free Mondays’ becoming increasingly popular in the UK, it’s estimated that at least a quarter of evening meals are either vegan or vegetarian.4

But it’s not all about winning over meat lovers. Vegan alternatives to other everyday staples are now commonplace, eg almond milk and dairy-free cheeses are experiencing rapid growth.

Companies vie for the vegan dollar

The fact that vegan products appeal to non-vegans means businesses have been more motivated to move with the times. It also means they can cater to a larger market.

The Vegan Society says just under half of the UK population is expected to have some form of flexitarian-related diet by 2025, about twice the number of expected vegans. For perspective, less than 2% of the British population identifies as vegan at present – although half of them are thought to have converted in 2018, demonstrating how fast veganism is growing. Of course, with an increase in demand, supply will grow too.

Many big companies have launched new vegan products either to capitalise on demand or because they were pressured by customers or shareholders. This has been achieved by either developing new products in-house or by acquiring smaller businesses to get a head start.

The trend is taking hold across the entire food supply chain. Large food producers have launched their own vegan product lines. Nestlé purchased plant-based food producer Sweet Earth, while consumer goods giant Unilever has made its popular everyday products tolerable for vegans by introducing new tea bags for PG Tips that work better with the likes of almond or soy milk.

Those that sell food, like supermarkets, aren’t only stocking more third-party vegan products, but also developing their own lines, eg Tesco launched its Wicked Kitchen range that includes meat alternatives and other products like herbs and spices, and prepared vegetables.

The vegan trend also goes well beyond food, with people becoming increasingly particular about the contents of non-edible goods. The vegan cosmetics market, for one, was worth $14.4 billion in 2019 and $15.3 billion in 2020 – it’s expected to reach $18.4 billion in 2023 and $20.8 billion in 2025.5

Even companies like Tesla, that aren’t obvious examples of vegan friendliness, are making changes – the electric carmaker removed the leather option for seats due to environmental reasons.

Learn how to trade ethically

Investing in and trading veganism

How to invest in veganism

Investing in veganism means you’ll own the vegan asset outright and will be required to pay the full value upfront. With us, you’ll use a share dealing account to make investments. You can get exposure to the rise of veganism and the growing consumption of plant-based products in different ways, including:

  • Investing in vegan stocks
  • Backing venture capital trusts (VCTs) that invest in vegan and plant-based stocks
  • Investing in vegan exchange traded funds (ETFs)

Say you choose to invest in vegan stocks: you’ll become a shareholder with voting rights and profit from any dividend payments (if offered by the company). You’d also make a profit if you sell your investment when the share price is higher than the original buy price.

However, if you sell your shares when the share price is lower, you’d incur a loss. While potential profits are essentially unlimited, your possible losses are capped at the full value of your investment (excluding any additional fees).

Create a share dealing account to start investing in veganism

How to trade veganism

When you trade vegan assets, you’re speculating on the future market price with derivatives such as spread bets and CFDs. This means that you won’t own the underlying asset, so you can profit from both rising and falling markets.

Spread bets and CFDs are leveraged products, so you’ll only need to commit a small initial deposit – known as margin – to open a position. Leverage magnifies both your possible profits and potential losses to the full value of the trade, so it’s important to manage your risk properly before you open a position.

If you’re not ready to trade on live markets, you can practise trading vegan assets on our demo account – a risk-free environment where you never have to deposit real funds.

Best vegan stocks and assets to watch

Best vegan stocks

Some newly listed big names – such as Beyond Meat, which had its initial public offering (IPO) in 2019 – have stolen much of the limelight. Additionally, many companies that have been publicly listed for longer are either shifting toward plant-based products, or already positioned to naturally benefit, such as fresh food producer Total Produce.

Below is a list of vegan stocks to watch, although not all of them can be classed as 100% vegan-friendly:

  1. Beyond Meat
  2. Ingredion
  3. Bunge
  4. AAK
  5. Total Produce
  6. Archer Daniels Midland
  7. Hain Celestial Group

Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat is a popular name to mention when discussing how the vegan trend is gripping consumers around the world. The company is famous for its Beyond Burger, the ‘world's first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef,’ without genetically modified organisms (GMOs), soy, or gluten. Beyond Meat also provides other meat-free alternatives, eg sausages and minced beef.

The company has found success by selling its product to the mass market, with its products being stocked in the meat aisle alongside traditional meat products and mostly sold to flexitarians or reducetarians.

Learn more about Beyond Meat

Ingredion

Ingredion is a Fortune 500 company that turns grains, fruits, vegetables and other plant materials into ingredients such as sweeteners, gums, biomaterials and other specialty ingredients for a wide array of applications.

Most of the company’s ingredients are used in food, with the rest going to soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, as well as other applications such as toiletries and materials that help in making plastics and paper more environmentally friendly.

It recently said it would raise investment in plant-based proteins to $185 million by the end of 2020, up from a previous budget of $140 million, as part of a partnership with Verdient Foods. However, some vegan investors may be put off by the fact that up to one-tenth of its business is made up of supplying ingredients used to make feed for livestock.

Bunge

Bunge is an agribusiness that supplies plant-based staples – eg grains, oilseeds and sugar – used to make a variety of foods. It also has milling operations that create milled wheat, corn and rice products and acts as a middleman that helps transport goods from farms to food processors.

Bunge operates across the world but is predominantly based in the US and South America. Its strongest area is oilseeds, where it has an industry leading footprint producing soy, canola, sunflower seed and rapeseed oil. Its vertically integrated business model means its agribusiness and food and ingredients operations reinforce one another. Together with oil giant BP, Bunge created BP Bunge Bioenergia, a market leader in low carbon ethanol, sugar and bioelectricity in Brazil.

AAK

Scandinavian firm AAK is the world's leading producer of specialty and semi-specialty vegetable oils and fats. AAK advises clients on everything, from tinkering with recipes to logistics and analysing market trends. It also helps make products suitable for different dietary and nutritional needs.

Its products are popular in chocolates, confectionary and other sweet treats. It launched AkoPlanet in 2019 to offer tailor-made solutions for food manufacturers developing plant-based alternatives within the meat, dairy, and ice cream segments. The company says its raw materials come from plants and have a ‘minimum impact on the environment’.

Total Produce

Total Produce is one of the largest producers and suppliers of fresh food in the world. It operates across 26 countries from 260 facilities spanning farms, manufacturing plants and cold storage warehousing that collectively produce over 300 lines of fresh food products. The company has operations in North and South America, Europe, South Africa and India. The company serves the retail, wholesale and restaurant sectors.

Total Produce doesn’t specifically target the growing trend for vegan and plant-based foods. It’s a natural beneficiary nonetheless, particularly after it splashed out to buy global fruit and veg giant Dole, which subsequently had its IPO in July 2021. This merger formed the largest fresh produce company in the world.

Archer Daniels Midland

Archer Daniels Midland also known as ADM, is another firm poised to capitalise on growing demand for plant-based foods. The US company serves customers in around 200 countries ‘all the way from plant to plate’ from its 450 crop procurement facilities and over 330 food and ingredient manufacturing plants.

It has strengths in producing soy meal, oil and sweeteners. ADM also has ‘on-trend ingredients’ such as plant-based proteins and non-dairy frozen treats, demonstrating that it’s aware of how consumer diets are changing. However, investors should also note that it has a large industrial business and also produces animal feed.

Hain Celestial Group

Hain Celestial Group is a natural food producer that distributes its products to over 70 countries, including the UK, Germany, the US, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The company has well-known brands that feed off growing demand for healthier, plant-based alternatives, such as its Almond Dream, Better Bean and Yves Veggie Cuisine, in addition to a smaller portfolio of personal care products.

It makes most of its money in the UK and the US. Hain Celestial is another firm that looks set to benefit from changing diets, with an ambition to create ‘organic, natural and better-for-you brands’.

Discover IPO trading and company listings to watch

Vegan VCTs

Investors can also gain exposure to veganism through venture capital trusts (VCTs).
There’s a wide variety of VCTs that have dipped their toes into the vegan, and plant-based food and wellness categories, but it’s important to understand that VCTs tend to have broad fields of interests, meaning they may hold investments in other areas that are less appealing to vegan investors, eg meat production.

Octopus Titan VCT, for instance, has backed the likes of ‘allplants’, which delivers frozen plant-based meals to subscribers, and Plum, which produces organic plant-based foods for children and babies. But its portfolio spans everything, from energy to property to healthcare, and much in-between.

Similarly, Pembroke VCT has investments in companies like Plenish, a UK-based alternative milk and cold pressed juicing business, but also has investments in other firms, like burger outlet Five Guys, that may reduce its appeal to vegan investors.

One of the biggest benefits of investing in a VCT is that it can allow you to gain exposure to private companies that aren’t publicly listed. The fact they hold a variety of investments in multiple sectors also reduces risk.

Vegan commodities

Another way of gaining exposure to veganism on the financial markets is by investing in or trading the commodities that underpin vegan and plant-based diets.

As the world starts to reduce its meat intake and consume more plants, demand for common agricultural products should increase while new, more exotic ingredients are likely to become more popular. Beans, grains, soy, nuts, fruit and veg, vegetable oils and seeds are just some of the common staples of a vegan diet.

With us, you can invest in or trade a number of soft commodities that fit into these categories, including:

  1. Chicago wheat and London wheat
  2. Oats
  3. Corn
  4. Soyabeans, soyabean oil and soyabean meal
  5. Rough rice
  6. Orange juice

Learn how to trade soybeans or how to trade orange juice.

Open a live account: start investing or place your first trade

Are you ready to buy physical vegan assets or speculate on their future share price? If so, create an account and get started.

FAQs

What is veganism?

‘Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose’ – The Vegan Society.

The defining characteristic of a vegan diet and lifestyle is consuming products that don’t contain any ingredients sourced from animals, including things they make like eggs, honey and milk. Vegans also avoid using products like cosmetics or clothing if they have been produced using animal materials such as leather or fur, or have been tested on animals.

What are the differences between vegan products and plant-based products?

Those striving to make vegan food are primarily focused on one dietary requirement: protein. Whilst the human diet has traditionally sourced protein from meat, there are a growing number of vegan products sourcing it from plants like lentils and chickpeas.

Vegan products shouldn’t be mistaken for plant-based ones, especially when it comes to food. All vegan food is plant-based but not all plant-based food is vegan. Although some foodstuffs source protein from plants, they can still contain or be made using secondary ingredients that are sourced from animals.

For example, Guinness wasn’t made using animal products but was filtered using isinglass, made from fish bladders, which made it unsuitable for vegans. Drinks-maker Diageo has now stopped using isinglass to make Guinness a vegan-friendly option, and has made vegan alternatives to other beverages in its portfolio, such as Baileys.

It’s also worth mentioning ‘cultured’ foods, better known as lab-grown meat. Protein is grown in a bioreactor using ingredients such as sugar, creating ‘meat’ without having to rear an animal.

Is veganism about more than animals?

Protecting animals is usually the number one priority for vegans, but they’re likely to have other beliefs that influence their habits as consumers. Many also aim to purchase products with a low carbon footprint as a way of contributing to climate change reform, while some also consider how much water has been used to create a product.

Some say that veganism isn’t just about protecting animals and cutting out meat from their diets, but a broader set of principles aimed at saving the environment. Global meat and dairy production must be cut in half by 2050 if the world is to meet its climate obligations under the Paris Agreement, according to Greenpeace.

1 EIN Presswire, 2021
2 Kearney, 2021
3 Statista, 2021
4 The Goodness Project, 2021
5 Statista, 2021


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