“The increased interest in plant-based and vegan products, and the company’s success in reducing plastic, reveals just how important sustainability is to contemporary grocery retailing in the UK.”
Tesco has reported having a “record” vegan Christmas as sales of the retailer’s largest-ever Plant Chef range spiked by more than 90%.
The data comes after the supermarket giant revealed plans to boost vegan meat sales by 300 % by 2025 as part of an eco-drive.
Tesco’s sales figures also align with GlobalData’s new research which shows that over one in five (22%) consumers are buying less meat due to its ethical and environmental implications.
COVID -19 has also compelled many people to revisit their dietary choices and shopping behaviour.
A recent survey, by vegan cheese Mexicana, found that around 55 % of Brits have increased the number of meatless options in their diet since the first COVID-19 lockdown.
Around 22% of people polled said they had tried plant-based alternatives to meat, fish, and dairy products for the first time since the country faced its first lockdown in March last year.
“This new announcement shows how much COVID-19 has really reshaped consumer behavior. While the threat of COVID-19 kept consumers at home, ordering online, people have reported heightened ethical and environmental concerns.,” Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, said.
“As consumers have been forced to stay home, they have been forced to consider the future they wish to build and how to best care for the places they live. It has been a shock to the system that has made people re-examine their priorities.”
He added: “Looking at Tesco’s results, these concerns have translated into increased sales of products that align with these values.”
Tesco’s sustainability efforts
Tesco also announced that it became the first UK retailer to achieve its target of removing a billion pieces of plastic from its UK business in 2020.
Britain’s largest supermarket chain successfully saved 67 million pieces of plastic annually by removing plastic-wrapped multipacks from its stores and selling cans in a loose format.
Other packaging removed during the year included plastic shrink wraps, secondary lids, greeting card covers, and plastic gifts inside Christmas crackers.
Since launching its four Rs strategy- remove, reduce, reuse & recycle – in August 2019, Tesco said it had reduced the size of its annual packaging footprint by 3,480 tonnes.
“Our own-label and branded suppliers have had a lot to contend with in 2020 so removing a billion pieces of plastic is fantastic progress,” Tesco quality director Sarah Bradbury said.
“Our work to remove, reduce, reuse, and recycle will continue into 2021 – there is no place for unnecessary or non-recyclable packaging in our business.”
Whittaker, commenting on Tesco’s efforts to reduce plastic waste, said: “Packaging is the other side of sustainability and e-commerce; sustainable plant-based ingredients are important.
“GlobalData found that well over a 2 third of UK consumers now care more about reducing plastic packaging at the end of 2020 as a result of the pandemic.”
Urging other retailers to emulate Tesco’s plastic reductions, Whittaker added: “Tesco’s sales bump reveals how key the company is to UK consumers.
“The increased interest in plant-based and vegan products, and the company’s success in reducing plastic, reveals just how important sustainability is to contemporary grocery retailing in the UK.
“Companies should take note as, regardless of the pandemic and Brexit, the UK consumer demands a sustainable future.”
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