A Sainsbury boss has admitted concerns about the sale of fatty vegan foods.
Mark Given, the supermarket chain’s chief marketing officer, said they are trying to ensure that new plant-based alternatives are no less healthy than the meat they are supposed to be replacing.
Speaking at a Cop26 event, Mr. Given said, “You really need to be careful about compromises in this area. We are concerned about some of the salt and fat content in some of the alternatives that are out there.
“This is something we work very carefully with our suppliers to find a balance and you have to look at where some of the plant-based solutions around the world are coming from for that footprint.”
Sainsbury’s is one of five major companies to announce an agreement with WWF to reduce their collective impact on nature by half by 2030. WWF will rate the companies on metrics, including a target that half of their protein products are from plant sources. But Mr. Given said the company is “very, very far” from that threshold.
Time for a “serious talk” about levies
The Action on Salt campaign group has warned that plant-based products can sometimes be twice as salty as the meat they replace and that they are more processed.
A study published earlier this year in the journal European Food Research and Technology found that vegetarian and vegan burgers tended to be lower in fat than red meat burgers, but some were much fatter than fish or poultry burgers. They also tended to be higher in sugar and less protein.
At the same Cop26 event, Elisabeth Costa of the Behavioral Insights Team – known unofficially as the “Nudge Unit” – said it was “time to have a serious conversation” about levies on foods that are bad for the environment.
“We should develop something that aims to drive innovation and sustainable practices on behalf of farmers and make it easier for consumers to consume low-carbon and low-methane options with minimal effort,” she said.
Last month, a paper produced by the unit examined the possibility of introducing taxes on red meat and dairy products to “help everyone eat more sustainably”.
“The effort to win hearts and minds could better be used to create public support for bold policies such as a producer-centric carbon tax on ruminant products,” the paper reads briefly on the government website before it was removed.
A government spokesman said the document was a research paper and not an official guideline.