Survey shows surge in plant-based ready meals

Plant-based and vegetarian meals are the fastest growing and most affordable ready meal options available at leading supermarkets, according to new research.

The latest snapshot survey of almost 3,000 ready meals across ten UK supermarkets by the Eating Better coalition revealed plant-based ready meals is now the fastest growing category, up by 92% since the first survey in 2018.

Supermarkets leading the way include Aldi and Tesco, which have increased plant-based options by 175% and 103% respectively.

The 2021 analysis also shows that plant-based ready meals are cheaper per portion than meat meals at seven out of ten chains. At the Co-op, for example, meat-based meals have gone from being 8% cheaper than plant-based options in 2020 to the opposite this year, with meat meals now 9% more expensive than plant-based alternatives.

Overall, there has been a 50% increase in plant-based and vegetarian meals on offer since 2018, with one in five ready meals now plant-based or vegetarian.

“Retailers influence how and what we eat and have a responsibility to help us make healthy and sustainable food choices,” said Simon Billing, executive director at Eating Better.

“Climate-friendly food needs to be mainstream and shouldn’t cost more, so it’s good to see progress on choice and affordability. Now, we need the same drive on meat options, to make up no more than 50% of the ready-meals ranges at all retailers,” Billing added.

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