The cooperative group is reducing the price of its plant-based burgers and sausages to combat the “unfair” price of vegan food.
Consumers who are trying to cut back or ditch meat often complain that replacement meat costs more than buying the real thing.
To this end, the cooperative is investing seven figures in its vegan Gro range with certain products, including burgers and sausages, which are more than halved in price to bring them in line with the meat-based equivalent sold in its 2,600 stores.
Eating plant-based foods “shouldn’t cost you more,” said Jo Whitfield, managing director of Co-op Food, of the move that is part of his larger plan to achieve net zero emissions. ‘by 2040. “It’s an industry-wide program. standard that plant-based alternatives are generally more expensive than their meat and dairy counterparts … this disparity is unfair for those on vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets.
A recent survey found vegan products to be 14% more expensive than their non-vegan equivalent per serving. But it varied widely, with some vegan products costing almost three times as much.
Despite concerns over the high prices charged, sales of plant-based foods crossed the £ 1 billion mark in 2020, with 13 million shoppers purchasing meatless substitutes and alternative milk, analysts say from the Kantar grocery market. And despite the difficulties of the lockdown, nearly 600,000 people worldwide have tried Veganuary, up from around 400,000 in 2020.
The British spent £ 549million on meat-replacement burgers and sausages last year, according to a recent report by market research firm Mintel which predicts sales will increase by 50% over the next five years. Awareness of the environmental benefits of eating less meat had “exploded” among consumers, but the alternative meat market was “marred by an overpriced and processed image,” according to the consumer survey.
Discounts in the Gro range include vegan sausages from £ 3 to £ 1.45 and the price of meatless burgers has dropped from £ 3.00 to £ 1.35. Meatless hash now costs £ 1.75 instead of £ 3.00. The cuts could allow a family to choose vegan alternatives for more than a hundred pounds a year, the cooperative said.
Lynne Elliot, executive director of the Vegetarian Society, said she supports any initiative that makes plant-based foods more accessible. “Eating plant-based foods is one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint,” she says.
The co-op has promised to provide annual updates on its progress towards achieving net zero and has also linked Whitfield’s compensation to carbon reduction targets. Other measures taken include switching its 200-person home delivery fleet to electric vehicles and an innovation fund to support research and development initiatives on reducing carbon emissions. It will also stop selling plastic “life bags”, as many buyers only use them once, making plastic pollution worse.