Diet study suggests ready meals ‘not prepared for flexitarian future’

ready meals flexitarian diet vegetarian vegan prepared food
06/07/2018 - 10:56
Eating Better, the alliance working to promote the reduction of meat and dairy in our diet has published a study yesterday, showing how supermarkets need to revamp their ready meals to cater for the growing number of flexitarian customers. A ‘flexitarian’ diet is mostly plant-based but with the occasional inclusion of meat.

The research accounted for over 50 organisations including retailers such as Tesco, Aldi, and Marks & Spencer and assessed their non-meat ready meal options. The study looked at 1,350 ready meals from 10 organisations and found that 77% of meals included meat.

While there has been a rapid growth in plant-based eating, the study found that only 3% of meals were plant-based choices (excluding meat, fish, dairy or egg). Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury offered the largest number of choices, while Iceland stocked no options for the veggie market. The data showed how not only are plant-based options limited, but also are at a premium price to the meat filled meals.

Executive Director of Eating Better, Simon Billing described how the UK supermarkets were “falling short on ready meals” for the plant-based market. He said: “We busy Brits love convenience food, spending over £4.7 billion on ready meals in 2017. Eating Better wants to see supermarkets increase their plant-based and healthier vegetarian ready meal offer and also to use meat and dairy that meets higher animal welfare and environmental standards across the rest of their range.”

Not only are fewer meat-free options on offer but also the meat included in the ready meals was often not of the same animal welfare standard as promoted in the fresh meat aisle. Nearly 30% of meat based ready meals did not indicate the country of origin of the meat. Only Waitrose and Co-op used British meat in all of their own-brand ready meals.  

Flexitarian diets are on the rise. Eating Better’s 2017 YouGov survey found that 44% of British people are willing to cut down on their meat consumption with Mintel reporting that 51% of shoppers are keen to buy higher animal welfare meat. 

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