KFC’s Beyond fried chicken has been Veganuary’s big winner

January 27, 2022

Written by Haley Corzo

Since 2014 the UK organization Veganuary has encouraged consumers to take a 31-day pledge to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Social media has helped to amplify the cause, with vegan content becoming more accessible and promotional efforts from celebrities spreading the word. 

Overall, however, online engagement to Veganuary content has actually decreased in the last couple of years. 

That’s not to say that the move towards veganism has slowed. More and more brands are jumping on board to provide consumers with vegan options, aligning with Veganuary’s original mission of creating a global movement that encourages compassionate food choices.

But what does this mean for the future of Veganuary? We looked at how interest in Veganuary has reduced over the years, but honed in on the brands whose vegan products are maintaining momentum for veganism.

Chart comparing public interest to veganuary

Veganuary and vegan product launches have been making headlines for years now, and capturing huge amounts of media and public attention. There were over one million engagements to these articles written in January of 2019 and 2020, and while the majority of top stories came from British publishers in those years, 2020 was also the first year that Veganuary launched a campaign in the U.S, making it a possible driver of the high engagement.

When looking at 2021 and 2022, it was apparent that there was less coverage of Veganuary on its own and more focus around brands that were moving to incorporate vegan food options on their menus, or launch a brand new product. Even so, engagements to Veganuary and vegan web content have dropped significantly since 2021 with similar results this year. However, brands are still continuing to time their launches around the January period, and there have been some in 2022 that sparked interest on the web, but also across social media channels. Let’s first take a look at KFC. 

KFC unveils Beyond Meat fried chicken

chart showing media and public interest to KFC
The most popular and highly anticipated product to be released this month was KFC’s plant-based fried chicken. The fast food chain has been working with Beyond Meat for two years to develop the perfect recipe, and media and public interest were both at their highest in the days leading up to its Jan 10th launch. 

VegNews generated the most buzz for the new menu item in its article published on Jan 4th, and became the most engaged article overall with over 32k engagements. Although it was responsible for setting off the initial increase, the biggest peak in public and media interest came a day later, with 88 articles that saw over 78k engagements on the 5th.

The vegan fried chicken had already generated a hefty amount of earned media before KFC even took to its own channels to promote it, but on Jan 10th the brand’s Instagram page exploded with 12 consecutive posts that showcased the Beyond Meat partnership. KFC’s account was responsible for eight out of the top 10 Instagram posts, which all earned thousands of engagements and the campaign is still going strong on the platform. 

While most of the public’s reaction to the launch was that of excitement, with several people flocking to TikTok to post their reviews of the new meatless meat, there were also several articles published on Jan 9th that revealed the vegan item was in fact — not totally vegan. The stories highlighted how KFC confirmed the chicken is cooked in shared fryers, so cross contamination with meat was very possible. On the day of launch the brand was sure to add a blurb to all its Instagram posts to make customers aware of the potential risk.

Chipotle adds plant-based chorizo to its menu

The fast-casual Mexican chain Chipotle is also adding more vegan items to its menu, but instead of partnering with a well-known brand like Beyond Meat, it’s making a plant-based chorizo in-house. 

News about the chorizo first broke on Jan 3rd and VegNews was once again the publisher leading the pack. The vegan outlet wrote about Chipotle’s promotion that offers free delivery on a bowl if it includes the new chorizo, and the article received over 5k engagements. 

The brand’s new addition generated less public interest in comparison to KFC’s launch, netting just over 10k engagements to articles written about it since the beginning of January. Maybe the lack of uplift from a partner like Beyond Meat contributed to lower interest levels, but a crowd favorite brand like Chipotle offering more vegan options is still noteworthy.

The vegan chorizo also didn’t receive as much attention across social media channels as KFC’s fried chicken, but VegNews posted about the item twice on its Facebook page, and together the two posts totaled 3.2k engagements. Chipotle didn’t have a social media campaign around the launch on its own channels, leaving room to wonder if the brand could have generated more interest on its own.

Vegan beauty draws attention on Instagram 

It might be a surprise that food content on Instagram wasn’t responsible for the top posts in January, especially with brands rolling out new vegan items. Instead all the hype was around vegan beauty products. 

e.l.f. Cosmetics, a popular drugstore brand that is not new to the world of vegan beauty, took to Instagram to promote its Cookies N’ Dreams primer that launched on Jan 19th. Six of the top 10 vegan posts on Instagram were about beauty, and three of them were about e.l.f.’s vegan primer. Together the posts were able to generate 108k engagements.

Kylie Cosmetics is another honorable mention on the list, and although the brand didn’t launch a new vegan product, it did form its post around Veganuary, highlighting that it’s proud to be a vegan and clean beauty brand. The post was made on Jan 1st and received nearly 30k engagements.

The hype around Veganuary may be lessening online, but the movement has still succeeded in inspiring people to shop more consciously, and as a result the consumer demand for vegan-friendly options has driven brands, even outside the food industry, to make these options more accessible.

If you’d like to stay up-to-date with stories like this, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Related articles

These were the top publishers on Facebook in April 2022

These were the top publishers on Facebook in April 2022

The Daily Mail held off competitors to maintain its spot at the top of the rankings for April 2022, marking the second month in a row the British publisher has been the top publisher on Facebook. As always, we used our API and NewsWhip Spike to gather these rankings,...

Benchmarking your brand’s performance against competitors

Benchmarking your brand’s performance against competitors

In this third installment of our blog series that uses Home Depot as a guide for how brands can utilize NewsWhip Spike, we’re demonstrating how our Combined Timelines feature can help you benchmark your brand’s performance.  Let’s get right into it with some examples....

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial