Tesco to increase sales of meat alternatives by 300% to reduce environmental impact of products

Tesco has become the first UK retailer to set public sales targets for plant-based meat alternatives, pledging to increase sales of those products by 300% by 2025 as part of an ongoing commitment to halve the environmental impact of the average shopping basket.

Tesco to increase sales of meat alternatives by 300% to reduce environmental impact of products

The scheme will be facilitated by Lombard, the UK's largest asset funder and a division of NatWest.

Tesco will increase sales of plant-based meat alternatives as part of its Sustainable Basket Metric that aims to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket. The Metric was set up in partnership with WWF in 2019. To date, Tesco has achieved 11% of this target.

As part of its collaboration with WWF, Tesco set up the metric which enables customers to track the environmental impact of some of its most popular products. The metric will track the environmental impact of 20 of Tesco’s most frequently sold own-brand items across seven issues: climate change; deforestation; sustainable diets; sustainable agriculture; marine impact; food waste and packaging waste.

Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis said: “We know from our experience in tackling food waste that transparency and setting ambitious targets are the first steps towards becoming a more sustainable business. Our transparency on protein sales and our new sales target for meat alternatives gives us the platform to becoming more sustainable and will provide customers with even more choice.

“We can’t accomplish the transformational change needed for a truly sustainable food system on our own, so we’re calling on the whole industry to play its role, starting with increased transparency on its sustainability impacts.  We also call on the government to do more by helping to scale up innovations and create a level playing field to ensure companies drive sustainability in their supply chains.”

Tesco will introduce plant-based alternatives across 20 different food categories, including ready meals, sausages, burgers and party food. The retailer will aim to make them affordable in line with the traditional meat options.

Plant-based surge

Investor coalition FAIRR has documented a tenfold increase in the plant-based-food-related assets its cohort manages over the past four years and found that four in ten food giants now have dedicated teams for plant-based products.

Among them are Nestle and Unilever from the consumer goods sector and Coles, Kroger, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and Tesco. Unilever is notably aiming to increase the amount of so-called ‘Future 50 Foods’ – plant-based ingredients which are proven to have a lower environmental impact – used to make products for several of its most recognisable brands, including Knorr.

The FAIRR initiative estimates that the global market for alternative plant-based proteins could expand at an annual rate of 8.29% in the next three years and reach $5.2bn by 2020.

The need to tackle the climate impact associated with the human consumption of meat and dairy is significant, with GHG emissions from the livestock sector estimated to account for 15% of the global total. This figure is set to hit 80% of the planet’s carbon budget by 2050 as the global population grows to reach 10 billion people – who will need to be fed in in a more sustainable way than at present.

The global meat sector is widely classed as a key contributor to climate change – and one of the worst-prepared industries for climate challenges such as droughts, floods and heatwaves in the world. As such, the switch to plant-based meat alternatives can have a big impact on corporate efforts to reduce emissions.

Matt Mace

Comments (1)

  1. Andy Kadir-Buxton says:

    Vegan ‘Meat’ Alternative better, and cheaper, than Meat

    The ‘Holy Grail’ of vegetarians and vegans used to be to create a plant based food product that had the texture and taste of meat, a prize was going to be awarded by the animal rights organisation PETA. Linda McCartney won the award, with a product cheaper than meat. The new target is to produce real meat in the laboratory, but looks like it will be expensive and bad for the environment, so my invention is still better. The raw vegetable matter was flavoured, and fortified with vitamin B12 (missing from such diets) and then compacted to a density higher than beef. The result is then tenderised by automated steak mallets until the correct tenderisation of the meat you are mimicking is achieved. A few trials provides the answer to that. Jehova’s Witness artificial blood complete with red colouring was added.

    As veganism is healthier for the planet than animals fed grain, uses less water, fossil fuel used in intensive farming, and greenhouse gas emissions then perhaps all vegans should be campaigning to have more of their food processed in this way.

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