V-Label is an internationally recognized symbol that verifies plant-based products and supports consumers in making conscious decisions in the grocery store. To continue its mission to help shoppers find the best of the best, V-Label is accepting applications for its second annual International V-Label Awards. Their marketing project manager, Nikolett Konkoly, joined us to chat!
Joey Thurman: V label or vegan label awards last year was the first year the awards were given out. And today I'm joined by Nikolett Konkoly from V-Label awards. Nikolett thanks for being here.
Nikolett Konkoly: Thank you so much for the opportunity. I'm so happy to be here.
Joey Thurman: Well, your accent is much better than mine. So congrats on that. I mean, I don't know, maybe mine sounds a little more refined. I don't know. We can go with that. Now, tell me what is the V-Label awards.
Nikolett Konkoly: So if you allow me to start by explaining a little bit about V-Label, if you don't mind, because that would connect us to voids. So V-Label is the leading certification seal for vegetarian and vegan products, providing including food, cosmetics, non food, and also gastronomy. And our main aim really is to make consumer's choices easier when it comes to choosing vegan vegetarian foods. And we do this by working with local NGOs that promote plant is lifestyle and innovative producers. And we also support our B2B partners by organizing webinars, publishing white papers and also running the international V-Label awards, which is why I'm here today. And then the awards, the main goal is the awards to celebrate the innovation, the positive impact, the quality and the customer satisfaction within the plant based movement. And we really hope to set the plant based industry on par with other well established industries who also have their award schemes that celebrate all the innovation within their sectors. And the V-Label awards are the first plant based awards within the scene. We're very excited to be repeating it for the second time this year.
Joey Thurman: Well, that's exciting because I mean, it is nice to be recognized what other industry you're in and having that V-Label is kind of gives people that recognition. Correct? Now with the first year and the awards happening last year, what kind of response did you get from the winners of the awards?
Nikolett Konkoly: So we were overwhelmed by the response we got because we received, I think 577 entries from over 36 countries globally. And the award is a great tool for brands to communicate to their customers and really make their brands stand out from the abundance of vegan choice that we are lucky to have these days. And some companies, for example, Lidl Germany has won two awards last year and they were very proudly communicating it on their packaging, on their social media, on their marketing material. And it's a great feedback for us that brands really made use of this award. And they really felt like it was a recognition that they received that would set them apart from their competitors.
Joey Thurman: Yeah. Do you actually send out an award? Is it like a big plant or tree or is it just like a certification?
Nikolett Konkoly: We also sent out a trophy, but we supplied the brands with a special logo that they could display on their packaging. And of course the V-Label international channels were full of the winner stories and we introduced the winners in blog articles as well, on our social media channels and they're just a great [inaudible 00:03:21]. And of course we have our jury panel of experts and influencers also add to this buzz and we are really making this a huge celebration of the vegan products.
Joey Thurman: Yeah. That's amazing to have that stamp of approval. How did you guys decide, you said over 500 entries, how did you decide who won?
Nikolett Konkoly: Not just one actually, we had multiple categories last year as well, but this year we have 16 categories in total. You have categories such as best dairy or best meat alternative. But we also have something like best in cosmetics, best in textile and also a category such as innovation, which is also open for not yet V-Label licensed brands and products. So we have these 16 categories. Plus we have a special influencers' award given up by our panel of influencers and jury. And we also have a special consumers award, which is decided by public vote, which begins in September. And so we make little pools of judges. So each category is judged by multiple people so that we try to make it as fair as possible. And then from each category, a winner comes out that we, this year it will celebrate 18 winners.
Joey Thurman: Wow. That's a lot of winners. Do you have a favorite category or maybe are you not allowed to say that?
Nikolett Konkoly: I quite enjoy best in textile. Because, for example, last year we didn't have this category, but invest in innovation. No, actually sorry. The special influencers' award was received by NUO, which is a company who create leather like material from good. And this is one of the nonfood categories which could be applied for this year in the best in textile. And I think, for example, this leather, this is such an important material that we so far have been lacking the plant based alternative of. And just seeing these great innovation just reminds me how far the vegan movement has come so far and just makes me amazed to read all these inspiring stories and just see what great innovations are coming out of brands' and startups' heads day after day.
Joey Thurman: Yeah, it's mind blowing. Actually my workout shoes are completely plant based and I bet I have 20 pairs of them. Granted, I didn't pay for them. They sent them to me for free, but they are completely vegan made. And by touching them, you can't even really tell that is vegan leather if you will. Are some people surprised when they see products like that?
Nikolett Konkoly: I think they are, especially with the meat substitutes. Especially big family dinners or friend lunches, when you order something and they taste them and they say like, oh, I wouldn't have been able to tell that was vegan. And I think that's the aim that, of course there's an argument and everyone has that choice of preparing more whole foods or preferring some meat and dairy substitutes. But I think by creating and giving people the choice, it's so much easier to get everyone to go with the plant based movement and help the environment, help the animals, help people who work in this industry and it's just all a great movement and all this great products add to it and really celebrating and highlighting them is what we aim to do. And just presenting to customers how many options there are now.
Joey Thurman: Yeah. That's a beautiful mission for choice and environment. And I don't think anybody is ever going to say that's not a good thing. Now, what are you excited about for the future of V-Label?
Nikolett Konkoly: So we've just began to license some gastronomy partners as well. So, for example, we have quite a huge partnership with Burger King who are launching some vegan burgers in various countries across Europe. And this is a huge step for the plant based movement to have such a fast food giant introduce vegan options within their menu. And we're also licensing, not just producers and retailers, but also gastronomy. And just expanding and seeing how many products there are now is quite exciting.
Joey Thurman: Now how can people get involved?
Nikolett Konkoly: So the applications are open under the 30th of June. So brands and retailers can enter their product. And then the voting process begins in September. That will be a public vote, which will be announced on our social channels. So keep an eye up for that. People will be able to watch our ceremony in November. And there are still places open in our jury, so if influencers, media partners, or sponsors would like to get on board, we also have some great options for them. Do reach out to us that V-Label if you like to get involved.
Joey Thurman: From burgers to shoes and makeup, V-Label awards is covering it all. And vegan definitely covers so much more than just plants. I'm Joey Thurman. And thanks for coming on Talking Plant Protein.