Auckland-based vegan food company The Kai Box is riding a wave of consumer interest in plant-based food. Co-founder John Mellows shares some thoughts on the popularity of veganism with us.
The Kai Box this week released a new low-carbohydrate product called the Kickstart Kai Box. The family-run company has around 3,000 customers.
“Our kickstart boxes are designed specifically for those that want a dramatic health restart, or athletes wanting to adopt a leading edge diet and increase performance,” says John Mellows, co-founder of The Kai Box. “As a regular triathlon and Brazilian jiu jitsu athlete, I often train in excess of 12-hours per week, and utilising a low-carb plant-based diet in certain training blocks has worked wonders for my performance and overall energy, so we wanted to bring a product to the market to allow others to do the same.”
Mellows shared more information about the vegan market with us.
Tell us about the consumer segment you’re profiling. Who are they, and what kinds of products are they interested in buying?
We don’t profile our customers––we just want to help everyday Kiwi’s eat healthy meals. We do all of the meal planning and shopping for our customers making it easy and convenient for them to eat plant-based.
After switching to a plant-based diet, my wife and co-founder of The Kai Box, Saskia created meals for our family, then shared her recipes with our friends. We created the food boxes thinking we might just sell a few to a tiny market––now we’re more than 3000 customers strong. Many of our customers are not vegan, but just want to eat more plant-based meals.
Our latest product Kickstart is a low-carb food box catered towards those who want a health restart or for endurance athletes who want to get the leading edge.
What do you think is driving consumers’ increasing interest in plant-based and gluten free diets?
There are three main reasons people choose plant-based diets: environmental, health and ethical. There is more education about these factors now more than ever. A number of documentaries like Vegucated, Forks over Knives, and, the latest, The Game Changers have been hugely influential on us and others. Likewise not-for-profit organisations showing scientifically why plant-based diets are highly superior to diets that include animal products.
It has become common knowledge that a diet heavy in meat and dairy contributes more to climate change than one which is plant based. More and more people are trying out 'Meatless Mondays' or reducing their animal product intake in a bid to help the planet.
Do you expect to see that interest continue to grow? If so, why?
Absolutely. It’s a 'trend' that is backed by science. Studies are showing how meat-eating and dairy consumption not only damages our health, but also has a detrimental impact to the environment. Globally people are becoming more conscious of what they put on their plates, as well as in New Zealand.
Vegetarianism has been steadily growing in New Zealand since 2014 with one in ten Kiwis now vegetarian. We also now rank third in the world for veganism.
Is there room in the Kiwi market for more vegan or plant-based businesses? Why or why not?
With the rise in popularity and awareness around vegan diets, there is a huge untapped opportunity for local businesses wanting to enter the plant-based market. There are new businesses popping up all the time in the plant-based community, such as those providing plant-based meats, milks and proteins – and ones like us who are packaging it together to make it easy for the consumer. This is fantastic because it means that consumers have far more choice than they did just five years ago and eating a plant-based diet is more accessible than ever before. We’re just thrilled to be part of a growing space.