Nisa retailer Aaron Aulakh and his family have prepared their three Nisa Local stores in the West Midlands for the new year – with plant-based and alcohol-free growing categories for the business over the past two years.
Many consumers across the UK will be kicking off 2024 by taking part in Veganuary, where people try a plant-based diet for the month of January, and Dry January, which involves giving up alcohol in January.
Aaron, who does the buying across the stores in Earlswood, Solihull and Shirley, plans to create brightly coloured point of sale to flag up the lines to help customers seek out healthier choices, as many consumers embrace the usual focus on health and fitness that January brings.
The business also aims to have a plant-based alternative in all categories, these include the Co-op Gro Incredible Burgers in frozen, the Co-op Gro Creamy Coconut Cauliflower Curry in chilled, and in ambient Gro cookies. Aaron says he has noticed increased interest in healthier breakfasts, especially Dorset Cereals Muesli, Co-op No Added Sugar Swiss Style Muesli and Co-op Honey, Raisin & Almond Granola, in recent months.
Aaron notes that one of the recent success stories in vegan ranges has been the Huel replacement meal drinks, particularly at Shirley where there is a gym down the road. “We’re seeing big sales in all our stores,” says Aaron. “They’re great as they have a decent till ring at £3.75 and a long shelf-life. We’re finding they are popular with gym goers who grab them as an evening meal.”
To support those taking part in Dry January, Aaron has ensured the availability of alcohol-free drinks. Aaron has seen the biggest gains have been in beer with Guinness 0.0%, Peroni 0.0% and San Miguel 0.0%. Additionally, the business has trialled Nozecco Buck’s Fizz in the lead up to Christmas, following the success of Nozecco sparkling alcohol-free wine.
In January 2023, grocery sales data from Kantar found that there was a 3 per cent increase in sales volumes of no and low alcohol beer volumes year on year, while sales of own-label ranges labelled as plant-based or vegan rose by 21 per cent across the sector.
Victoria Lockie, Head of Retail at Nisa, said: “January will see many people across the UK shift towards healthy alternatives and low alcohol drinks as they take part in Veganuary and Dry January. Retailers will have to adjust to this shift in consumer behaviour and tailor their offering to ensure customers have access to the right products. Nisa is proud to offer a range of alcohol-free drinks and plant based alternative foods, through our Co-op Own Brand range, to help our retailers to adapt to customer needs.”