Sainsbury’s unveils UK’s first meat-free butchers

The UK’s first Meat-Free Butchers will be opening its doors to the public on Friday 21st June.

Launched by Sainsbury’s, during World Meat Free Week, the traditional style butchers offers customers an array of cuts and joints derived from 100% plant-based alternatives.

‘Meaty’ cuts, joints and strings of sausages found in the shop will in fact be made from the likes of mushroom, jackfruit and even pea protein.

Open for three days in Bethnal Green, customers of the East-End butchers can choose from over a dozen high quality fresh foods, before the best boneless bites are weighed, wrapped and put into customers’ own bags and containers to take home.

This comes as Sainsbury’s has seen a 65% increase in sales of plant-based products year-on-year – with sales having doubled in the last year compare to the previous year.

A recent Future of Food report issued by Sainsbury’s predicted that a quarter of all British people could be vegetarian in 2025 (up from one in eight Britons today) and half of us could identify as flexitarians (up from fifth today), in five years’ time. What’s more, by 2050 we could start to see ‘cultured’ meat shift become an everyday item, with lab-grown meat kits ready to be picked up from the ‘lab-grown’ aisle.

The Meat-Free Butchers has been designed to highlight how far vegan food has come over the years, showing customers the huge breadth of choice now available.

This comes as many are still daunted by the prospect of cooking with plant-based foods, including 46% of those following diets which don’t include meat (pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan) – which may be resulting in limited options for them.

Despite its rising popularity, over half (56%) of Britons have never tried what they would consider to be a ‘meat alternative’… even with 52% hoping to increase their number of meat-free days.

The top reasons for this are; worrying that they won’t like the taste (40%), not knowing how to cook plant-based foods (36%) and believing that plant-based food is only meant for vegans (24%). In fact, almost two in ten (18%) of those who consider themselves ‘meat eaters’ think plant-based food to be ‘rabbit food’.

The top words ‘meat-eaters’ associated with a plant-based diet were:

  1. Vegetables
  2. Tofu
  3. Healthy
  4. Expensive
  5. Unappetising
  6. Boring
  7. Chickpeas
  8. Eco-friendly
  9. Rabbit food

Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) people have served plant-based versions of meat products to their family, friends or a partner and have told them it’s meat. Out of these, only 8% said they couldn’t fool them. 

For those who are unsure about giving plant-based food a go, hungry visitors will not only be able to buy the raw ingredients for their dinner at the Meat-Free Butchers but will also have the chance to taste many of the delicious products entirely for free.

The in-store butcher will be specially trained for plant-based cooking, sharing recipe advice and tips to help customers get involved in World Meat Free Week, which encourages people to try more plant-based foods.

Buyer for Sainsburys, James Hamilton said: “Whilst we’re seeing a huge climb in sales of our plant-based foods, we know from conversations with customers that there is a sense of trepidation about cooking with them. So, our Meat-Free Butchers has been launched to encourage people to get up close to the products, try what they like and take home some valuable cooking advice and recipe inspiration.

“We have carefully selected the products on offer from the growing range of over 100 plant-based products now available at Sainsbury’s, so customers are in for a real meat-free treat when visiting the butchers!”

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