Message from Will Donovan,
ProVeg South Africa Director

2023 was a challenging year for the plant-based movement in South Africa. We started the year with the Burger Ban – the government’s attempt to ban words like Burger, Sausage, and Nugget from being used for vegetarian and plant-based products still undecided and still in court. This was a catalyst to start forming a trade group to discuss issues relating to the ban and other issues facing companies in the plant-based space in South Africa. Out of these discussions was born the Plant-Based Foods Association of South Africa (PBFASA), a trade organisation which will be operational in 2024.

The PBFASA became a member of the International Plant Based Foods Working Group, who invited me to attend COP28 in Dubai, a valuable networking opportunity.

A highlight, and evidence that at least some work trying to build connections in the policy sphere came with an invitation from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment to participate as a stakeholder in a workshop intended to set the stage for future work on mitigating climate change.

On the corporate engagement side, our team spoke at several conferences during the year, including South Africa’s largest plant-based exhibition, the Plant-Powered Show, and one of Africa’s biggest trade exhibitions, Africa’s Big 7.

We continued to work on building relationships with key stakeholders in the plant-based food industry. The second edition of our fast food ranking led to meetings with leading food outlets, and we are hoping for more partnerships in 2024 for campaigns like our Veggie Challenge and Veganuary..

Although we significantly cut back physical events due to capacity constraints and a decision to focus more on policy work, we still handed out over 12,000 samples of plant-based meat alternatives.

We continue to grow our V-Label program, with 9 new clients signing contracts in 2023, and we look forward to significantly increasing V-Label operations in 204.A big focus during the year was on growing our media reach. We had multiple significant national TV and radio interviews, including significantly more reactive media coverage, managing to bring plant-based food into other issues making the news in South Africa. We had over 120 media mentions, and according to our media tracker, our traditional PR reach was in the tens of millions. Our social media reach grew by over 100% compared to the previous year’s period.

Our main focus for 2024 will be to grow our capacity, and to capitalise on the relationships we’ve built both in the policy and corporate engagement space by forming meaningful partnerships with key stakeholders.

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