Tesco has announced it will become the first UK retailer to set a sales target for plant-based meat alternatives as it steps up its work with its partner, WWF to halve the environmental impact of food production.
The retailer has committed to a 300% increase in its sales of meat alternatives by 2025*, alongside a wider set of sustainability measures which it has developed with WWF. Taken together, the measures included in the partnership’s Sustainable Basket Metric will aim to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket.
Tesco has set out a range of measures to help it reach its ambitious sales target:
- Availability: Introduce and grow plant-based meat alternatives across all its stores, with products across 20 different categories including ready meals, breaded meat alternatives, plant-based sausages, burgers, quiches, pies, party food.
- Affordability: continue to invest in value so that affordability is not a barrier to buying plant-based meat alternatives.
- Innovation: work with suppliers to bring new innovations to customers.
- Visibility: provide a meat alternative where a meat version is featured, for example Richmond sausages and Richmond plant-based sausages to feature together.
In another industry first, Tesco has committed to publishing the sales of plant-based proteins as a percentage of overall protein sales every year to track its progress. Tesco became the first UK retailer to publish its food waste data in 2013, and it hopes this new level of transparency on protein sales will help encourage the rest of the food industry to make similar commitments.
Food production, specifically meat and dairy production, has a significant impact on precious habitats like the Amazon and Cerrado regions of Brazil and is acknowledged as a major contributor to climate change.
The two organisations are now calling on other food businesses to increase their transparency around sustainability measures and consider the Sustainable Basket Metric as a framework and way of monitoring progress towards making the food system more sustainable.
Tesco CEO, Dave Lewis said:
“We know from our experience in tackling food waste that transparency and setting ambitious targets are the first steps towards becoming a more sustainable business. Our transparency on protein sales and our new sales target for meat alternatives gives us the platform to becoming more sustainable and will provide customers with even more choice.
“These measures are just part of the work we’re doing with WWF, bringing together for the first time a host of sustainability metrics to help us halve the environmental impact of food production.
“We can’t accomplish the transformational change needed for a truly sustainable food system on our own, so we’re calling on the whole industry to play its role, starting with increased transparency on its sustainability impacts. We also call on the government to do more by helping to scale up innovations and create a level playing field to ensure companies drive sustainability in their supply chains.”
Tanya Steele, WWF CEO said:
“It’s great to see this sector-leading step from Tesco. Tackling the environmental impact of what we eat and how we produce it has never been so urgent. WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020 has just revealed that, in the last 50 years, wildlife populations have declined on average by 68%. The food system has been identified as the biggest culprit, but also presents one of the greatest opportunities to reverse this trend; rebalancing our diets is a critical part of that.
“Food businesses cannot have a sustainable future without transparency. They need to know where they are starting from in order to know where they are going. Our partnership with Tesco aims to halve the environmental footprint of the average shopping basket, but we need a sector-wide step-change in transparency and accountability to achieve the scale and pace of change that is so desperately needed. We ask all food businesses to join us on this journey.”
Tesco and WWF launched the Sustainable Basket Metric in 2019. So far, the retailer has achieved 11% of its target to halve the environmental impact of the average shopping basket. The Metric measures environmental impacts of food across seven different categories: climate change; deforestation; sustainable diets; sustainable agriculture; marine sustainability; food waste; and packaging waste.
Together, Tesco and WWF are working on a number of different initiatives to make the food Tesco offers more sustainable, including working to ensure all wild fish is sourced from sustainable sources, and reducing emissions in existing supply chains.