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January 6, 2012 11:52 AM   Subscribe

How do I go about gathering statistics regarding vegan/vegetarians?

I am working on a business plan presentation for opening my vegan bakery where I live. One of the things my business counselor has advised to find enough proof to show that this is a feasible venture for our area to support.

So what is the best way to go about this? My initial forays have provided some data (mostly from vegan nutrition websites) but I am afraid this might be seen as too biased. Canadian stats, preferably, but I've been told US ones are acceptable as well.

Thanks, hivemind!
posted by Kitteh to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if this would be considered appropriate in a business sense, but could you do a survey of the area?
posted by Danithegirl at 11:56 AM on January 6, 2012

What kind of stats are you looking for? Are you trying to get an idea of how many vegans and vegetarians there are in your area, or just what they're interested in or want from a bakery?

One idea is to find some vegan / vegetarian blogs that focus on your region. This shouldn't be too hard if it's in / near a major city - I read a handful of vegan blogs dedicated to vegan restaurants, catering, events, cooking with local produce, etc. in my area. Contact the people in charge of the blogs and ask them to link to a survey you make on surveymonkey or the like. It would probably only be surveying the people really excited about veganism and a certain type of internet user, but maybe it would still be helpful? I've seen some of my local blogs do this and I always take the surveys, I think it's fun, and it creates buzz for future vegan businesses. And then when your bakery launches you'll already have contact with those bloggers.

You say mixed things about the importance of region, so, you could just do this with as many vegan / vegetarian blogs as possible, since not all blogs will agree or get back to your or necessarily have readers who would take the survey, and then you could just get as many respondents as possible. Then it would also make more sense to send the request to cooking blogs, which don't tend to have regional followings.
posted by fireflies at 12:09 PM on January 6, 2012

Where do vegans/vegetarians congregate locally? Co-ops? Progressive bookstores? The gym? Put up some flyers asking folks to participate in an online survey and see if you can do in depth follow-up interviews with a few of them. You could ask folks what they buy, what they like to eat, how many vegans they know (which would not give you a count of course but would give you some idea about how social circles work), etc etc.
posted by Frowner at 12:20 PM on January 6, 2012

Just a thought, it might be helpful to consider that not ONLY veggies and vegans will go to your bakery. Could you contact other vegan bakeries, restaurants, businesses, etc (maybe not local ones so it's not seen as competitive) and see if they know what percentage of their clientel is vegan??

Obviously I'm just an individual, but I'm a former vegetarian who will still frequently eat at vegan and vegetarian restaurants when available. Also, I read an article recently about a vegan baker who didn't overtly advertise her goods as vegan so as not to discourage the general population.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 12:26 PM on January 6, 2012

I would look at sales figures for veg and vagan products. As on obligate carnivor, I would not show up in the population you are marketing directly to, however one of my favorite bakers is a vegan baker and I buy vegetarian products for myself all the time.

Could you get stats on the growth of the shelf space devoted to vegan foods in your area grocery stores?

There should be a lot to indicate that this is a growing market niche - both for people who are making personal choices and for aging Canadians who are making a health choice.

Is there anything like a local heart association or other health group that would have information about clients who are leaning toward or adopting a vegan diet?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:33 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could call your local community college/university and ask if they do volunteer statistics projects and/or have a database you could check. I know some definitely do. Or if there's a grad student or prodigy undergrad who'd do a legitimate survey for $50 or something.

Also, wanted to note the customer base for gluten-free and vegan often overlaps.
posted by vegartanipla at 12:47 PM on January 6, 2012

Firstly, I recommend that you think of this as a very important question for you to find out the answer to, not simply something that will help you put together a nice presentation for other people. My guess is that more small business ventures fail because they had no realistic idea of the potential market size than for any other reason. The reason people want to see this in your plan is the same reason why you should want very much to know yourself - it's a vital indicator of whether your business has a chance or not.

Now probably you can't find data that exactly matches what you want. But you can make a best guess by combining information from different sources. For example you may be able to discover such things as...

- The percentage of vegetarians / vegans by socio-economic group
- The percentage of vegetarians / vegans by ethnic group
- The percentage of vegetarians / vegans by age group
- The socio-economic, ethnic, age-group composition of your target area

Great sources of data are probably locked up inside other businesses if you can find a way to get them to talk to you. For example supermarkets will know how many vegetarian products they are selling in the area. At the least, you can check out things like the number of vegetarian restaurants in the area, and how busy they seem to be.

It's maybe more valuable to get an idea of the range of plausible numbers than get exact statistics. At the end of the day what everyone wants to know is: "Yes there are enough potential customers that this has a reasonable chance" or "This plan needs a major rethink because the numbers just aren't going to add up".
posted by philipy at 12:48 PM on January 6, 2012

Seems like something that Canada Business should be able to help you with.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:05 PM on January 6, 2012

I imagine that you'll want to sell goods to customers in general, and not just to vegans/vegetarians. Many a meat-eater has bought a tasty cupcake from a vegetarian bakery without even knowing it, and that's an important market not to lose. There was an interesting article in one of the papers just recently about vegan/veggie bakeries going stealth, in order to avoid being pigeonholed.

I apologize if this isn't terribly helpful, but in addition to everything else, I would look up bakeries which are marketed as being merely modern, healthful, or veggie/vegan friendly, but not necessarily as being exclusively veggie/vegan.

I'm not a sweets person, so I'm a terrible person to ask, but I know that in Brooklyn, there are at least a few "stealth veggie" bakeries. Even for bakeries which are more up front about being vegan/veggie, it would be worth discussing in an interview how those businesses work to reach out to a general audience.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:43 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

From Statistics Canada:

Statistics Canada does not collect data on the number of vegetarians or vegans in Canada.

Statistics Canada has information on the following:
  • ethical consumption
  • fruit and vegetable consumption
  • crops
  • food production and supply
Some resources include
See also
For more information, see the following subjects:

posted by thatdawnperson at 3:44 PM on January 6, 2012

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