Tesco Plant Chef Vegan aisle shelf

Veganism has always been associated with the elite. That was illustrated by an infamous war of words in 2018, in which Great British Bake Off finalist Ruby Tandoh told vegan advocate and former Made in Chelsea star Lucy Watson to get off her “Sloane throne”.

She has a point. Even today, despite soaring sales, vegan innovation has tended to come at a cost premium. A pack of two Beyond Meat burgers is £4 in Tesco (for non-Clubcard holders), while a pack of four frozen beef quarter pounders is £2.65. It’s not hard to imagine which will be chosen by a cash-strapped family in a cost of living crisis.

Which makes this year’s crop of Veganuary launches all the more interesting. In the past, innovation from brands has far outweighed own label, but it’s now more or less equal, and crucially the retailers have ensured own-label lines have affordability at their core.

Asda’s two new ranges – OMV and Plant Based – are a case in point. At £2.25 for a pack of No Chicken burgers and £2 for bacon-style rashers, they’re designed to appeal across its shopper base, rather than to those who can afford a premium.

Affordability was also a key motivation behind Tesco’s five new Plant Chef lines, designed to offer alternatives to the “usual family favourites”. All are around the £2 price point. And all are frozen – a growing attribute as shoppers turn to the category’s affordability and long-life credentials (as illustrated by our report on the rise of frozen ready meals).

Granted, this isn’t an entirely new idea. In 2021, Co-op announced it was cutting the prices of its Gro range to make a plant-based diet “affordable for everyone”. Since then, prices have been consistently matched against their meat and dairy-based counterparts.

But these moves from the likes of Asda and Tesco are one step further towards democratising veganism. Already, Mintel says the price differential of vegan products is coming down. It’s a move that will no doubt gain ground as living costs continue to rise. And premium brands like Beyond Meat will likely have to work even harder to justify their premium price point.