Here's Why Hellmann’s 'Vegan' Mayo is Now 'Plant-Based' | Totally Vegan Buzz

Here’s Why Hellmann’s ‘Vegan’ Mayo is Now ‘Plant-Based’

Hellmann’s, under Unilever’s umbrella, recently stirred the mayo jar with a bold rebrand of its ‘vegan mayonnaise’ to ‘plant-based,’ targeting not just vegans but also the growing tribe of flexitarians. But what’s in a name? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Hellmann’s rebranding initiative is a response to evolving consumer dynamics. By switching to ‘plant-based,’ Hellmann’s aims to cast a wider net, capturing a segment of the market that might be put off by the distinctly ideological connotations of veganism.

In addition to the name change, the plant-based mayo has been reformulated; it now contains less rapeseed oil, includes added sunflower oil and xanthan gum, but remains free from animal products.

Introduced in Britain in 2018, Hellmann’s vegan mayonnaise was marketed towards a rapidly growing demographic committed to veganism for ethical reasons. However, the label ‘vegan’ has recently been retired from its packaging in favor of ‘plant-based,’ a term seen as more inviting to a broader audience, including flexitarians.

This shift is set against a backdrop where veganism faces wavering popularity among some groups despite its strong foothold. Across the UK, several vegan restaurants have either ceased operations or diversified their menus to include meat, striving to cater to a wider customer base. One notable case is Clean Kitchen, a healthier fast food alternative that initially served only vegan food but now includes meat items to attract more customers.

Hellmann’s rebranding decision aligns with consumer research indicating that labels significantly impact purchasing choices. For example, a U.S. study conducted in February found that only 20% of meat-eating participants chose a food gift basket labeled as ‘vegan,’ while 27% opted for a basket labeled ‘plant-based.’ When the same basket was labeled ‘healthy’ or ‘sustainable,’ its appeal increased dramatically, with over 40% of participants selecting it. This is why phrases like ‘100% sustainably sourced oils,’ ‘free from artificial colors and flavors,’ and ‘good source of omega-3’ are prominent in Hellmann’s messaging around the rebranded Plant Based Mayo.

The Vegan Society’s 2022 report highlights that there is some confusion about whether ‘plant-based’ is a more effective term than ‘vegan.’ The term ‘plant-based’ might draw in a broader audience, but it is also less understood; about 36% of consumers believe that plant-based products might contain small amounts of animal products. The effectiveness of each term may depend on the specific product and its intended demographic.

ProVeg International recommends avoiding terms like ‘meat-free,’ ‘vegan,’ and ‘vegetarian’ if targeting mainstream consumers, particularly flexitarians. Instead, they suggest focusing on the provenance, flavor, appearance, and texture of the products. The understanding of what ‘plant-based’ means can vary widely between different countries, indicating a need for tailored marketing strategies.

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