Tesco Says It’s In Its ‘Second Phase’ Of Plant-Based Growth

Plant-based meat is on the up once again


3 Minutes Read

Plant-based and vegetarian section in a supermarket Demand is rising again for plant-based meat thanks to flexitarians - Media Credit: Alamy

British supermarket Tesco is seeing a second wave of demand for plant-based food following a drop in sales last year.

Tesco said that flexitarians who want “to take more control over what they eat” are driving up sales again. 

Cate May, Tesco’s plant-based food buyer, said that “Plant-based food has been the biggest culinary trend so far this century.” She added that the “initial level of interest was inevitably going to drop off slightly” after the novelty wore off. 

“But what we are seeing is phase two of that revolution,” said May. Whole cuts of plant-based meat have particularly been gaining in popularity.

Sales on the up

Alamy Stock Photo Tesco says customers are buying more plant-based food

The plant-based meat industry took a hit in 2023, with sales falling and some companies entering administration. The higher cost of these products combined with the cost of living crisis helped drive down sales. 

But the sector has been rebounding this year. Sales of vegan fish alternatives are up by 100 percent since the start of 2024, compared to the year before, says Tesco. Plant-based steaks, and “chicken” breasts have seen a rise of 20 percent, as have the classic meat alternatives tofu and tempeh. Meat-free burgers have sold 10 percent more. 

One particularly successful product has been Juicy Marbles’ prime plant-based steak. Tesco says it sold an unprecedented 100,000 cuts in the lead up to Valentine’s Day.

“Customers are starting to understand the versatility of plant-based ingredients and whole cuts,” said May. They 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.”

Less meat, more veg

A survey of 2,000 British adults commissioned by Tesco in December found other trends towards more plant-based eating. Nearly half of respondents said they are eating less meat than they were five years ago. Sixty-two percent go meat-free on two or more days a week, which Tesco says indicates that Britain “is embracing a more ‘flexitarian’ way of eating.”

Meanwhile, 60 percent of people are including more vegetables in their roast dinners, and 73 percent are eating more greens.

According to May, the latest sales figures show that flexitarians are cutting back on meat and making healthier choices “by cooking from scratch.”

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