LONDON, United Kingdom — British supermarket chain Tesco has launched an own-brand vegan range, as Brits continue to cut down on meat consumption.
‘Wicked Kitchen’ – a collection of plant-based meals, will be available in 600 Tesco stores nationwide, featuring dishes including mushroom bolognese, BBQ butternut mac, pumpkin falafel sandwiches and teriyaki noodles.
According to Tesco, in the last year alone, it has directly seen the effect of lifestyle choices such as ‘meat-free Mondays’ and flexitarian diets, with demand for chilled vegetarian ready meals and meat substitutes soaring by 25 percent.
By partnering with chef and former Global Executive Chef for Whole Foods Market, Derek Sarno, to create ‘Wicked Kitchen’, the supermarket giant hopes to drive plant-based innovation and appeal to what is rapidly becoming a mainstream market.
“When I first arrived in Britain from America I was hugely surprised at how little choice there was for vegans and those considering a lifestyle change,” explained Sarno.
“For too long, vegans have been overlooked, with many offerings that are available seemingly created to appease rather than truly please. Wicked Kitchen plans to change all that and I’m proud to work with Tesco and offer all its customers delicious meals to get them on board with this growing foodie revolution,” he added.
As a self-proclaimed ‘plant-pusher’ Sarno believes the new range will be the first step in creating real change. Writing on his website ‘Wicked Healthy Food’, he commented that thanks to the collaboration there will now be “delicious, chef-crafted, detail-oriented, affordable, innovative, and the most convenient options for consumers looking to eat more plants.”
According to Mintel’s Meat-Free Foods UK Market Report, published last year, one in seven adults said they were interested in limiting or reducing their consumption of meat or poultry in the future, with almost half of those asked agreeing that eating too much meat was bad for their health.
Highlighting the influence meat reduction campaigns were having, the report revealed that 39% of meat limiters or reducers had said initiatives such as Meat-free Mondays and Veganuary had made them more aware of the benefits of eating less meat. Social media influencers such as Deliciously Ella and the Hemsley sisters were also credited with having a significant impact.
Responding to the shift in consumer attitude, retailers and food producers have been racing to meet demand.
Just last week, Sainsbury’s launched a range targeting flexitarian diets, while online grocer Ocado has vastly expanded its dedicated vegan category.
Despite, the upturn in options available committed vegans still make up a tiny proportion of the population, noted Emma Clifford, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel in an interview with The Guardian last year,
However, “The appeal of vegan products has extended far beyond the limited pool of steadfast vegans. They have carved a place within overall healthy and varied diets. The powerful plant-based message makes these products increasingly attractive to health-oriented consumers, with benefits linked to animal ethics and the environment enabling consumers to feel holistically virtuous in their choice,” she added.