Vegan variety: the range headed for the meat aisle and the search for new products

Sainsbury’s plans to trial vegan-friendly meat next to the real thing, while Holland & Barrett is on the hunt to fill more categories.

11 June 2018

Sainsbury’s is putting vegan meat front and centre with plans to trial a range next month, which will be sold alongside real meats.

While Waitrose was the first supermarket to introduce a vegan specific section into its stores, designed to make shopping easier for customers, Sainsbury’s takes the lead in combining meat and meat alternatives together. Amongst the new items will be burgers that bleed when eaten.

Sainsbury's joins the likes of Tesco, which launched a plant-based steak into shops last month made from wheat and soy and manufactured by Dutch company Vivera. There are also reports that Tesco will be selling Beyond Burger patties from August.

Trials and texture

But whether the vegan range will making a permanent move next to meat is still to be decided.

Sainsbury’s will be trialling the move in 400 stores, with the vegan-friendly range including plant-based burgers and mince from Danish manufacturer Naturli’ Foods. It also sells plant-based 'fish' burgers, cured 'meats' and pate, as well as veggie stroganoff and veggie bolognaise.

Unlike Beyond Burgers, the products from Naturli’ Foods are not designed to taste like beef, but are given a meaty texture due to umami flavours from a combination of almonds, tomatoes and porcini mushrooms.

However, Naturli’ Foods’ burgers do contain beetroot to help recreate the cooking styles of raw, medium and well-done meat, as well as adding a realistic juice when bitten.

Flexitarians seem to have been in mind when Naturli’ Foods were the developing products, with Chief Executive Henrik Lund saying the company looked at people who wanted to eat more plants, but were afraid of compromising on flavour or missing out on favourite dishes such as lasagne and burgers.

Vegan demand

It’s not just the supermarkets that want a slice of the vegan market.

Health food and wellness retailer Holland & Barrett is searching for 500 new vegan product lines this year, as well as considering launching its first ever standalone vegan store.

While it already stocks vegan and vegetarian foods, it is looking into new categories like chilled and frozen, snacking, sports nutrition and on-the-go drinks.

Emma Cockerill, Holland & Barrett’s director of product development, said her team of buyers would welcome innovative suppliers.

“We’ve long been committed to a plant-based lifestyle, even offering members of the Vegan Society a discount in store. And with the growing amount of vegans in the UK comes the need for an expanded range of great products for them to choose from,” she said.

“We know from our suppliers that vegan foods taste better than ever and are available in many more categories than just the chiller. Which is why we are open to working with brands of all sizes, from full distribution to online only, or listings in our bigger H&B More Stores.”

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