At the end of my last blog I promised that I’d be discussing the vegan label in supermarkets, during my research however I stumbled upon a new range at Tesco: Tesco Free-From (see: http://www.tescorealfood.com/our-food/tesco-free-from.html) and I feel it demands some attention. The new range is very exciting and means another step toward more variety for vegans, but what are the implications of the free-from/vegan label?
This week I have tried three items from the range: coconut milk, dairy-free cheese spread and the crème caramel. The coconut milk is delicious, the dairy-free cheese spread is tasty if a bit bland, and the crème caramel is practically the real thing. My enthusiasm for the new range is, however, shadowed slightly by my awareness that the vegan label has not been adopted on every Tesco product. The range was pointed out to me when I complained to my mum that Tesco don’t label foods as ‘Vegan’. It is possible that this is simply an oversight; however, I have begun to consider what else might lie behind the vegan label.
Would it be too expensive to change the packaging? After working in retail I am aware that a change of packaging is likely to be a big and expensive operation. It could well be that Tesco have planned to add the little green ‘V’ but consider it too costly. It could simply be that the process is a slow one.
It might be the case that, due to strict regulations, any product that is produced in factory that handles milk and egg cannot be labelled as vegan even if the recipe itself is dairy and egg free. It is my opinion that a product with a vegan recipe is still vegan even if this is the case because it does create demand. I do appreciate, however, that it is a complicated situation when one considers allergy and intolerance sufferers.
My final thought is that the vegan label might be bad advertising. When a non-vegan sees the vegan label on their doughnuts they might avoid them without realising that they were probably vegan anyway. I have been in tongue-biting situations involving people who declared that they preferred the normal roast-potatoes which were in fact vegan anyway. I do believe some non-vegans have a bias against food that is labelled as vegan. So could it be that Tesco’s avoidance of the vegan label is a tactical manoeuvre?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I have been doing some research into the little green ‘V’ in Britain’s biggest supermarkets. My research is currently incomplete but I thought I’d share for now my list of vegan-friendly shops (based on labelling.)
The big four
SAINSBURY’S – VEGAN FRIENDLY
ASDA – NO LABELS
TESCO – NO LABELS (Except on Free-From range)
MORRISONS – NO LABELS
THE CO-OPERATIVE – VEGAN FRIENDLY
WAITROSE – VEGAN LABEL PRESENT ONLINE BUT NOT IN STORE
MARKS AND SPENCER – NO LABELS
ICELAND – NO LABELS
In my next blog I shall be concluding the labelling issue and be suggesting ways to bring attention to the issue (although finding out who is best to contact is more difficult than I expected.)