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A Vegan ETF to Hit the Market in January

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Of late,Investors appear to be bothered about the future of the environment and the effect it might have on their investing portfolio. For example, since apprehension about the death of natural resources has urged global superpowers to boost clean energy and reduce carbon emissions, investors believe that stocks with higher ESG scores will eventually outperform (read: Sustainable ETFs Gather Momentum: What's Behind the Surge).

Apart from the social standpoint, this investing practice has a valid reason for increased gains. As per a source, lesser focus on environmental issues by the companies may result in lawsuits, fines, and damages. As a result, issuers are increasingly coming up with the ESG-enhanced concept.

The latest one to join the bandwagon is Beyond Investing. Its ETF Vegan Climate Exchange Traded Fund will likely enter the market in January (read: Vanguard Jumps on the ESG ETF Bandwagon).

Inside the Proposed Fund

The fund looks to track the performance of the US Vegan Climate Index (VEGAN), as featured in Forbes and independently calculated by Solactive. It is a passive, rules-based index of U.S. large cap stocks, screened on the basis of vegan and climate-conscious criteria.

The index eliminates “companies engaged in animal exploitation, defense, human rights abuses, fossil fuels extraction and energy production, and other environmentally damaging activities”. The fund charges 60 bps in fees.

How Does It Fit in a Portfolio?

As far as vegan diet is concerned, the number of people turned vegan has leaped over the past decade. The trend is here to stay. According to a report by research firm GlobalData, only 1% of U.S. consumers were vegan in 2014 and the number increased to 6% in 2017. Demand for vegetarian food increased 987% in 2017 in the UK.

According to Beyond’s founder and CEO Claire Smith, “there’s a societal shift taking place towards veganism, or at least reducing the consumption of meat because of concerns about health, the environment or animal cruelty.”

The University of Oxford believes that “the world will have to eat 75% less beef, 90% less pork and half the number of eggs if we hope to keep climate change below 2 degrees Celsius”, per an article published on Euromoney. All these make it clear why the ETF issuer has come up with this concept (read: Guide to Socially Responsible ETFs).  

From investment perspective, VEGAN index returned 25.72% year over year in 2017 against 19.59% offered by its benchmark index Solactive US Large Cap. The total return of the concerned index also outperformed the parent Solactive index during Jun 5, 2013 to May 4, 2018.

Will It See Success?

The fund should not face direct competition as the concept of veganism makes it one of a kind. However, if we broaden the focus and look for ESG ETFs, there are plenty of ETFs to pose competition. Some of the popular ESG ETFs are iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF (DSI - Free Report) , iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target (CRBN - Free Report) and SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE - Free Report) .

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