Packaging design for vegan products

It's time to rethink branding and packaging for the growing vegan market, according to data from recent studies. Sales of meat substitutes are soaring, as new entrepreneurs enter the market with innovative ideas that appeal to a wide range of consumers. Data shows that there has been a rapid increase in sales of products like plant-based burgers, sausages, fake chicken nuggets, and even vegan chocolate bars.

Thanks to a growing awareness of sustainability and other ethical issues, consumers in the UK are changing their habits and opting for products that they feel have a smaller negative impact. In Britain alone, the plant-based food market has grown by more than 360 per cent over the last 10 years. These numbers indicate that businesses need to start taking this growing market seriously.

However, with products designed to appeal to the vegan market no longer distinguishable in supermarket aisles, packaging designers are facing increased pressure. They must create a visual language that sets their products apart from the competition while maintaining a recognisable and effective vegan brand.

Personality-driven packaging design

Plant milks, meat substitutes, and cheese are just the beginning. From chocolate to creamers and coffee syrups, there are many vegan products that are transforming the way consumers look at food. The key to success is often personality-driven packaging that can make even the most reluctant carnivores give them a try.

Personality-driven packaging is a technique that uses imagery to express a brand's personality. This not only helps customers connect with brands, but it also increases brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

The world is changing to embrace veganism — and designers are keeping up. From product labels to display boxes, vegan packaging is redefining the food industry and how consumers view ingredients and brands. With more people than ever before becoming interested in plant-based lifestyles, food packagers are showing off their sassy side, celebrating the cleanliness of vegan food products while maintaining quality design that appeals to meat-eaters as well as vegans alike.

Small brands, big personality

Although often small, new brands are pushing the boundaries of what's possible with plant-based foods. Demand for dairy-free and vegan foods has increased over the past decade; now there's a huge variety to choose from. However, small brands often lack the resources of larger food companies. This puts them at a disadvantage when competing with brands instore. Their packaging, therefore, needs to work harder at standing out on store shelves and gain more customers.

An iconic example of vegan packaging design done well is by Oatly, an internationally recognised plant-based milk brand. Its nondescript design is the result of a conscious decision to make the packaging less obviously “milk.” In an interview with Bloomberg , Swedish design consultancy Forsman & Bodenfors talked about how they had to “challenge the way the consumer views oat drink as a healthy dairy alternative to cow’s milk’’.

Made for humans not cows

Oatly's cartons are plastered with graphic, humorous straplines like "Wow, no cow!" and "Made for humans, not cows." Alongside these, the company's manifesto touches on their desire to help the environment and animal rights. The company focuses on full transparency with its customers, including making details of how its products are made available online for all to see. In addition, information on the company's mission to promote plant-based lifestyles is spread across its advertising materials, furthering its commitment to plant-based products and a sustainable future.

This approach to product packaging directly counters the stereotype of vegan product marketing. With a refreshing and witty tone, the brand’s language is often down-to-earth and relatable, creating a unique voice for the category in the process.

Mainstream appeal

Vegetarian and vegan brands in 2021 need to do more than just aim to appeal to the health conscious animal lovers. Instead, they must take it a step further and appeal to the broader non-vegan audience. In doing so, they will find that while traditional, natural-looking branding was one way to attract devoted vegans, it simply won't be enough to reach a broader audience without resorting to clichés and stereotypes.

One of the main challenges faced by brands in the industry is to create what marketers call 'mainstream appeal'. Many companies have taken a new approach on this, and for good reason. Instead of using the (some would say) stereotypical graphic language, many companies are using more accessible and eye-catching designs that don't alienate potential customers.

Meat-free Oumph’s new brand is as close to a butcher shop as you can get, because it looks just like one. Its new design features the chalkboard aesthetic used by butchers on old storefronts — but with the modern twist of using it for a vegan alternative. This gives consumers a more familiar association with their meat-free products while they shop online.

Most vegans and vegetarians don't want to eat healthy food. They just want to avoid meat. Oumph's design reflects this insight, delivering packaging that emphasises its own meat-free products by featuring lots of chicken, bacon, and other tasty animal parts on the front, and the strapline "Epic veggie-eating for free-range humans".

Label with baggage

Veganism has ballooned in popularity, but the popular label comes with some baggage. By avoiding strict associations of veganism, packaging designers can tap into the trend without alienating those who don’t identify as vegan.

While it is important to focus on your core customer, it is equally important to look at your lifestyle shopper. The lifestyle shopper comprises of travellers, urban professionals and those who love eating out and experimenting with new cuisines. It is this segment which will help you gain brand awareness and interest by creating a dialogue with them.

Quorn Foods was first launched back in the 1980s and has now expanded into more than 40 countries. It was a pioneer for substitutes, emerging just after the heyday of veganism, and it pointed out the differences between its products and animal meat — however, health-conscious customers have since shifted focus to brands that make it clear what they are. These new challenger brands are focusing on what they are: healthy alternatives to animal meat.

Beyond the supermarket shelf

The most successful vegan product designs look beyond the supermarket shelf. While it's great to have vegan products in supermarkets, how else can businesses expand their reach? How do you get people who are not attracted to veganism to try your products? Well, one strategy is to partner with restaurants, cafés, and other venues that can reach local customers — getting your brand in front of new audiences and increasing visibility.

Social media has also become an essential element of the digital marketing strategy of many vegan brands—especially those that want to reach a young and trendy audience. From Instagram selfies to Facebook posts, consumers are always on their phones — making it easy for companies to reach them with visually appealing content. The recent popularity of veganism among millennials is also a good reason why vegan e-commerce is booming.

What draws millennials in today is their love for Instagram. With over 84 million posts tagged #vegan, consumers are looking for products that will enhance their posts with a unique aesthetic.They want to feel like they’re buying into a cause — and promoting the ethical practice of veganism is an excellent one. This applies to all products, of course — but especially to the vegan market.


The vegan market is growing at a rapid pace — with more and more people adopting the vegan diet or just choosing meat-free options now and again. As the number of vegan products on the market has skyrocketed, so has the growth of vegan food businesses. Their success can be traced back to their great design — from the product itself to its packaging, and to branded elements that support nutrition education, facilitate social sharing, and promote brand loyalty.

To distinguish your vegan food products from the rest, you need a packaging design that's almost as unique as your product. To stand out among similar brands and boost consumer engagement, try pairing your packaging with a friendly illustration, playful pattern, or a trendy colour palette. Taking the time to hone in on a specific trait that differentiates your product from others in the market is a sure-fire way to experience increased sales.