Big Vegan Market to Future of Food Conferences

The diverse approaches to activate a brand to evangelical followers

· marketing,startup

After two long years, the Big Vegan Market headed back to Melbourne last weekend.


We are also less than a week away from the Alternative Proteins Conference in Melbourne. To coincide with milestone, we are holding some awesome events around the East Coast of Australia.

It's a BIG month!

The Big Vegan Market (BVM), together with the Adelaide Vegan Festival, Brisbane Vegan Expo, and the Sydney Vegan Market are the place to be for vegans living across Australia.

In Melbourne, there is also the World Vegan Day - which was the largest vegan festival in Australia. With Covid-19 easing, this may come back to life too.

These events cover a range of lifestyle modalities. Starting with food, consumer package goods, fashion, drinks, accessories and so much more. There are also charities participating as well for advocacy.

BVM is held at the Royal Exhibition Centre in Melbourne (pictured above). Which is a beautiful location to showcase plant-based products and services to the public. The weather was not the best, and it was Mother's Day as well. So a large attendance is a good sign. Over 130 stalls with probably around 10,000 people in attendance each day.

Overall, we enjoyed the event thoroughly. We re-connected with pioneering plant-based founders and sought to identify new businesses who are ready to grow.

It was great to see Amanda Leigh Walker, the co-founder of well established Lord Of The Fries. The multi-franchise business continues to participate in many large-scale community events and is setting a wonderful example for others to follow.

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Of the major vegan markets, three are now run by private ventures and no longer the veg associations.

In this post, we'll share a brief historical context about the vegan markets and festivals. And the shift happening, to 'future of food' style conferences, with the support of governments, institutions, multi-nationals and investors.

We'll share an activation hack for new product development and how to build a faithful following online. How well-funded startups can look to the veg industry events to activate. Likewise, how quality grassroots start-ups can look at the 'future of food' events to broaden their horizons.

History (Local & International)

The veg associations have been holding vegan events for a very long time.

From the 1908, the International Vegetarian Union, the oldest veg body in the world, held veg congress every four years throughout different parts of the world.

They would support the local chapters of the veg associations by sharing knowledge between international delegates and by sponsoring events.

In the early 2000s, having seen the success of the events in Indonesia and Brazil, the congresses modernised to World Veg Festivals.

In 2015, Purpose with Profit founder, Bob Ratnarajah, co-ordinated the IVU Veg Festival in Australia, partnering with the World Vegan Day and the Sydney Cruelty Free Festival.

You'll see that even back then, we could bring business owners together to share best practice and to learn something from each other.

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The festivals and larger markets played an important part in normalising what was considered fringe.

Now, as veganism and plant-based have become more mainstream, talented and professional event organisers have started creating commercial vegan market/festivals and expos.

We applaud all the dedication to bring these events to life.

Arguably, the Plant-based World Expo is probably the largest pure plant-based event globally. In Australia, the Sydney Vegan Market at Moore Park, attracts close to 10,000 people on a monthly basis - supporting the growth of many grassroots startups and bringing the whole community together.

The success has led to new bi-annual events which are held in Newcastle and the Central Coast. In Queensland, we have a regular Queensland Vegan Market in the South-East corner, rotating fortnightly. There is so much activity throughout Australia, it is hard to keep up.

Commercial Activation

With a large meat-centric population in Australia and the US, the flexitarian market is the target for many plant-based meat startups.

Due to this, some major brands with large investors have focused on sponsoring major events like Meat Festivals and the Royal Easter Show. While this is a great approach, we do wonder whether the flexitarians will actually be loyal to the brand. Instead, why not activate the early adopters in the plant-based community at the same time? The early adopters are likely to champion the brands to their fans.

Brands are regularly launching new products with major retailers. Again, these regular markets enable major brands to test their products prior to mass adoption.

Future of Food-Major Conferences


For the first time in Australia, on the 17th of May 2022, we have the Alternative Proteins Conference by Food Frontier. This topic is now much more broad than just plant-based or vegan, with cutting edge technology involved. It's about the Future of Food, from the farm to the plate.

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The climate crisis is worsening. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, we must now seek to reduce our carbon, and fast. Globally, investors, governments, institutions and large multinational are exploring all avenues to find alternative proteins, which mimic all aspects of milk, meat and eggs.

The barriers include all the functional sides.

Does the product taste, look, and cook the same and is it accessible with the same cost?

To give you a breath of the global events, see the New Proteins website

In Australia, we now have a dedicated media channel Future Alternative covering the alternative protein sector. Globally, we have Vegconomist. Now there are many other media channels starting to emerge.

The growth in the market is significant, and it's important to stay connected to the industry media that's sharing the latest updates (so you don't miss out on the opportunities).

But so many of you are busy running a business - and lack the time and energy to watch what is going on in industry circles.

It's for this reason, we are holding an event for purpose-led founders, so they can ready their business for the shift taking place.

The industry media or general vegan conferences don't give you the HOW when moving forward.

As in, how will you be a category leader when major brands switch to more plant-based? What are the strategies being deployed by purpose-led industry leaders? That's where our keynote presentations and masterclasses can help. We'll break it all down for you so you can be better prepared in business for today and into the future.

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There have been many mainstream businesses that have launched a plant-based product only to have it fail badly. This has happened to the restaurant industry as well as retail based products.

So we will provide strategies for these brands to adapt their business to launch with an activation strategy. There are various ways to move traditional businesses towards a purpose-led-approach. Just having a plant-based product is not enough.

Jobs to Livelihoods

In Australia and other parts of the world, grants are being awarded to support the alternative protein sectors and the economy.

As an organisation we have a simple vision to grow the plant-based economy, both large and small. While plant-based businesses provide the public with the variety of options they crave, it also supports the livelihoods of thousands of workers.

No government will stand in the way of jobs being created.

In our observation, if we don't come together and show the livelihoods being created, the meat and dairy industry will lobby the national governments to create barriers to adoption - arguing that jobs are being lost. We are seeing this played out in Australia with the Federal Senate Meat Labeling Recommendations.


This impacts all plant-based business.

In Summary

From large vegan festivals to future of food style conferences, there's a shift happening to foster mass adoption of plant-based and alternative protein offerings. We have been actively promoting within the sector since 2019.

The well-funded startups should consider activating their brands at community led events as well as mainstream festivals to harness a cult-like following.

For grassroots purpose-led brands, it's about deciding how big a game you want to play. Make sure you stay in touch with the larger future of food style events, so you are across the major initiatives supporting the growth of the industry. But at the same time enlist the right support to be by your side.

A rising tide lifts all boats.