Encouraging better business practice

Food businesses have an important role in helping people make healthy and sustainable choices, including shifting to more plant-based eating with less and better meat.

Eating Better is raising awareness of business opportunities for healthy sustainable eating. We identify better practice and showcase businesses leading the way, whether they are restaurants, school and hospital food providers, employers, retailers and food producers.

Food businesses can help by offering more meat-free meals, adapting dishes to include smaller quantities of meat and creating more plant-based dishes that are attractive, desirable choices for customers.

In May 2017 we published: The future of eating is flexitarian: Companies leading the way which showcases over 20 companies,including high street chains and supermarkets, that are helping people eat a greater variety of plant-based foods and less meat, and to support ‘better meat’ from farming that benefits the environment and animal welfare. New YouGov research for Eating Better found 44% of the British public are willing or already committed to cutting down on meat or cutting it out from their diet, confirming the major trend towards flexitarian eating habits.

We think that is great news, but while there is growing interest in flexitarian eating, there is also unmet demand for new products, ingredients and menu options. Our YouGov survey found the public wanting to see companies offer many more meat-free and lower meat choices. Hence, we are calling for many more restaurants, fast food chains, supermarkets, food producers and food service providers to step up to the plate and better serve this fast growing market. Our report provides advice on ways to do this. With  meat-free sales alone soaring £17m on the back of flexitarian eating, this is a market that no company wants to miss out on. 

In our 2016 survey of 535 sandwiches and wraps from eight supermarkets (Asda, Boots, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose) and four high street sandwich chains (EAT, Greggs, Pret a Manger and Subway) we found that consumers trying to eat healthily and reduce their impact on the environment would struggle to find a great choice of sandwiches that fits the bill. Only 19 out of 535 (4%) were plant-based (ie did not contain meat, fish, cheese or eggs as main ingredients). The vast majority (77%) were meat or fish based. 

Eating Better is calling on all retailers – regardless of their range size or customer demographic – to offer a good selection of varied, tasty, healthy and sustainable sandwich choices - with less meat, less dairy and more vegetables and pulses in their place.

Making change overtly or by stealth - such as adding more veggies and reducing meat in dishes – does not mean compromising on taste.For the meat they do use, we encourage sourcing ‘better’ meat that is naturally-fed, has a known provenance and is produced to high animal welfare, environmental and quality standards. This ‘less but better’ approach can provide health and sustainability benefits, while also providing cost savings.

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