Health-conscious consumers are craving and buying more veg, plant-based products

Produce Business report

The “plant-based” food craze, which seemed to point the future of eating several years ago, took a surprising tumble last year,

But major UK supermarket chain Tesco says it is back with a vengeance from shopping patterns in has been seeing over the past three months on products that are meat-free:

  • Fish alternatives up by 100%
  • Tofu and Tempeh up by nearly 20%
  • Plant-based steaks and chicken breasts up by 20%
  • Meat-free burgers up by 10%

“Plant-based food has been the biggest culinary trend so far this century and attracted interest from vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike who were curious as to what the fuss was all about,” says Cate May, Tesco Plant-Based Food buyer.

“That initial level of interest was inevitably going to drop off slightly, but what we are seeing is Phase 2 of that revolution with flexitarians now wanting to take more control over what they eat, whilst continuing to reduce their meat intake. These latest sales figures show they’re doing that by cooking from scratch.”

In addition to the meat alternatives, that diet has included a heavy dose of fresh vegetables. A survey done by OnePoll in December shows that nearly half of British families are eating more vegetables than they did prior to the pandemic … and more importantly, the same percentage is putting new veg on their plates:

  • 73% are eating more greens
  • 68% are eating more root veg, including carrots and sweet potato
  • 62% are eating more salad veg such as lettuce and peppers.

And they’re replacing the unhealthy with healthier alternatives. Tesco reports an incredible 100,000 meat-free steaks sold in the run up to Valentine’s Day.

“Customers are starting to understand the versatility of plant-based ingredients and whole cuts, and are creating a wide variety of meals such as tofu stir-fries, meat-free curries using chicken alternatives or beans and pulses, and classic steak and chips using plant-based steaks,” May says. “Awareness is also starting to increase around the health benefits of making some simple swaps in their diet, for example, to reduce saturated fat whilst maintaining strong levels of protein by increasing the amount of plants and plant-based foods in their diets and then supplementing with fresh veg.”



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