Will we see the rise of the vegan investor? – Birmingham Post article 23.12.2021

There are around 1.5 million people in the UK who are currently vegan, according to analysis conducted by finder.com.

Almost 500,000 Brits gave up meat in 2020.

Indeed, you only have to look at the way the supermarkets are fast stocking vegan alternatives to realise something is happening.

Financial investment group IG puts the global vegan market at $17 billion in 2020. In comparison, the global meat market is thought to be nearing $1 trillion.

So, even though meat eaters predominate, and veganism has a long road to travel, it is growing in popularity driven in the main by those looking for healthy lifestyles who also have concerns about threats to the planet.

Going vegan is straightforward. Investing in vegan products is complicated.

For example, the Stock Market quoted bakery chain Greggs launched a vegan sausage roll in early 2019. Sales surged.

Yet how could a vegan invest in a company far more famous for its pork offering. It surely goes against fundamental beliefs.

Dilemmas like this are commonplace.

How then to invest as a vegan?

Identify companies sympathetic to the cause, buy ethical funds that will do the screening and investment selection for you, or go for plant-based commodities such as grain. Purchase vegan stocks; back venture capital trusts that invest in vegan and plant-based stocks; opt for vegan exchange traded funds.

IG lists seven vegan stocks as ones to watch, although not all of them can be classed as 100 per cent vegan-friendly – Beyond Meat, Ingredion, Bunge, AAK, Total Produce, Archer Daniels Midland and Hain Celestial Group.

Beyond Meat is known for its Beyond Burger, billed as the ‘world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef’.

Ingredion is a Fortune 500 company that turns grains, fruits, vegetables and other plant materials into sweeteners, gums, biomaterials and other specialty products albeit 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 is an agribusiness that supplies plant-based staples such as grains, oilseeds and sugar.

Scandinavian firm AAK is a leading producer of specialty and semi-specialty vegetable oils and fats.

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. Albeit it doesn’t specifically target vegan and plant-based foods.

Archer Daniels Midland has strengths in producing soy meal, oil and sweeteners.

Hain Celestial Group is a natural food producer that distributes its products to over 70 countries.

IG goes on “Investors can also gain exposure to veganism through venture capital trusts. 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.”

It cites Octopus Titan VCT and Pembroke VCT as ones with appeal.

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. Beans, grains, soy, nuts, fruit and veg, vegetable oils and seeds, all common staples of a vegan diet, are traded internationally.

Ultimately then, when it comes to investing, much depends on how strictly vegan or, put another way, how pragmatic you want to be. And how hard you want to work your money.

Whatever approach, keep your portfolio diversified.