Two years ago, only 3 percent of ready meals were plant-based. New researched has revealed that in 2020 they account for 16 percent of UK supermarket ready meals
Supermarkets have been competing to expand their vegan and vegetarian ready meal options in stores in recent years since Tesco launched the popular Wicked Kitchen range.
Most of the major supermarkets including Waitrose, Asda, M&S, Morrisons and Aldi now offer a wide variety of meat-free ready meals for those looking to cut down their meat intake with easy dinner options.
According to new research from Eating Better, the number of plant-based products available in UK supermarkets has risen so much in recent years that 16 percent of ready meals are now vegan and almost a quarter of ready meals are suitable for vegetarians.
The group surveyed 2,404 ready meal products across all of the main UK supermarkets and found that Ocado was the most meat-free friendly with 40 percent of the products in its range being free from meat. Morrisons, Tesco and ASDA and Waitrose followed, with 25 per cent of their ready meals vegetarian or vegan.
Plant-based ready meals at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Iceland, however, were found to be on average 19% more expensive than vegetarian meals, with Lidl and Iceland ‘lagging behind’ on their vegan options.
Eating Better said that despite the promising rise in plant-based ready meals, there is still too much meat and dairy. Their research found that found 84% of meals contain meat, fish and cheese, and they’re often cheaper than their meat-free alternatives.
The group said that ‘retailers are important in helping people make healthy and sustainable food choices’ and is calling on them to reduce meat-based options
so that they make up no more than 50% of the range.
They said they would also like to see supermarkets lowering their prices to encourage sales of plant-based ready meals by pricing them competitively against meat, fish and vegetarian options.
Speaking to iNews, Eating Better’s executive director Simon Billing said: “While there are now some exciting options from retailers, you’re still going to have to hunt around to find plant-based options.
“Supermarkets should cater for consumer demand for more plant-based options at a price point that is more affordable than the meat range.”