A new study by Eating Better has revealed that 16% of all ready meals in major UK supermarkets are vegan, as most retailers have expanded their range in recent years.
In the study of over 2800 ready meals in 11 supermarkets, the organisation also found that while plant-based meals are the most expensive in some supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Iceland), their average per-portion price (£2.46) is lower than products containing fish, which are the costliest (£2.72), followed by meat-based meals (£2.48). Vegetarian ready meals are the cheapest (£2.07), but 70% of them contain cheese.
Eating Better, whose mission is to achieve a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption in the UK by 2030, found that Ocado had the highest ratio of meat-free meal options, with 53% of meals containing no meat or fish. This was followed by Waitrose, with 36%, and Tesco, with a third of its ready meal options either vegan or vegetarian.
However, Iceland and Lidl were at the bottom of the ladder, with only 21% and 17% of meals that have no fish or meat. Ocado also had the highest percentage of vegan ready meals, with 28% of their products being plant-based. Asda was second with 16%, which, alongside Aldi and Morrisons, more than doubled its vegan and vegetarian ready meal range proportionately.
The report also found that 48% of people were willing or already on their way to cut out meat, and that is reflected with sales of all meat-free foods: growing by 40% from £582 million in 2014 to £816 million in 2019. Last week, a report by Olam Cocoa revealed that the UK population turned to healthier and more plant-based snacks over lockdown, which also saw an increase in the popularity of vegan products overall.
Eating Better is now asking retailers to reduce their meat options to just 50% of the total range, add more vegetables and pulses and reduce cheese and meat, and competitively price plant-based ready meals.