Response of Supermarkets to Veganism

January 20, 2015

Consumers loyalty to a style of eating vegan represents a sphere of high potential for retailers, but it is essential to redesign assortments (an Italian case, in Florence).

Originally published by RETAIL WATCH (

By Antonello Vilardi, from source written by Marco Usai with title:”Vegan: il confronto ESSELUNGA-COOP FIRENZE”.

The “veggie” or, more correctly, the vegetarian is definitely one of the strongest business trends of the coming years. 

Just to mention the Italian case, there are over four million people who have chosen a way of life marked by the consumption of the products of the earth (the total population is about 60 million, so we’re talking about almost 7%). Of these, over 700,000 are vegans and accept a philosophy of life based on the complete rejection of all forms of animal exploitation.

Contributing to the amplification of this lifestyle, many well-known personalities in the field of cinema, music, even politics publicly profess their beliefs about food more or less orthodox, increasing the curiosity of consumers towards a new lifestyle and foreshadowing new consumption scenarios.

The number of vegetarians is growing, but still some retailers show a timid approach to this market with very high potential. In truth the specific products exist within assortments, but the problem is that it is not clear a real commitment exists in terms of category management.

On the topic, try to make a comparison between the major supermarket chains in the area of a city like Florence…

COOP (Shop Novoli)

An entire mural with refrigerated equipment is dedicated to the world of veggies: 12 sections, 1.2 meter which displays about 90 references to food and drink for vegans and vegetarians. 

The fridge is placed almost at the entrance of the store, in the broader area dedicated to organic. 

The range is quite wide and deep, with the leading brands of the segment (Valsoia, Soiasun, Almaverde Bio) and some branded items attributable to the same store: Bene.sì line, Viviverde Coop

Next to the mural fridge also is an exhibitor company “Muscolo di Grano”, a real gem in the field of vegan products. 

Communication is entrusted to the price tags and flags to the side as well as the horizontal signage on top of the fridge, which shows a small green logo with the words “IO SCELGO VEGAN” (“I choose vegan”). 


Esselunga, both in the near superstore Novoli that is located at Pratilia, has assigned an entire exposure, vertically, to vegetarian products: in the style of the superstore, sober and regular, there are five sections from one meter and 40 articles. Compared to competitor Coop, the assortment is less wide and the approach seems less challenging. Twosections of shelf host these particular kinds of products (Sojasun, Io Veg, BontàVivà are the brands most present; there are no articles branded Esselunga).


In coming months, we would expect an increase in the number of products and space dedicated to customers who are vegans, at least by those retailers who want to attract consumers demanding, but able to spend more: generally the average price of a vegan product is higher than the other products of the same category (except for the premium lines).