veggie burger

Merchandising meat-free products alongside their meat equivalents led to a fall in sales as shoppers were put off by higher prices, a new study has found.

Asda moved plant-based meat alternative foods, including veggie sausages, Quorn, and meat-free rashers, to sit alongside meat products as part of a major trial of so-called nudge tactics spearheaded by IGD.

However, the three-month experiment, conducted across six stores in urban and deprived areas, resulted in a 30% fall in purchases of the products involved, compared with when they sat in a dedicated display.

Asda said it was determined to ramp up its meat-free range and would learn from the trial.

“Placing plant-based meat alternatives beside their meat equivalents, rather than in a separate bay within the meat aisle, resulted in a significant reduction in the sales of these plant-based meat alternatives in trial stores,” the report on the trial found.

“The decline in sales of relocated products was greater in urban and more deprived areas, supporting the theory that price was a major barrier.”

The trial was undertaken after IGD’s Appetite for Change research last year found nearly 60% of people believed ranging meat-free products within the meat aisle would help them choose healthier and more sustainable foods.

However, it found that it highlighted the higher price of plant-based products in comparison to meat products. This provided a major barrier for cash-strapped customers looking to choose healthier and more sustainable products.

Beth Fowler, nutrition & health strategy manager at Asda, said it planned to expand its plant-based range by around 50% in 2023, to improve choice for customers. She said the supermarket was committed to making meat-free alternatives more affordable.

“Additionally, encouraged by the findings from this trial, we will simplify the shopping experience for customers when they buy our meat-free ranges, by merchandising products in a dedicated, extended meat-free fixture in stores.”