“We do worry about some of the salt and fat content in some of the alternatives that are out there.
“That’s something, with our suppliers, we’re working very carefully to balance, and you have to look at where some of the plant-based solutions come from around the world in terms of what that footprint is.”
Sainsbury’s launched its own brand plant-based range, Plant Pioneers, in 2019. The range encompasses a series of products across ambient, chilled and frozen – offering a variety of alternatives to animal-based proteins, including jackfruit, banana blossom, pea protein, soya and seitan.
As part of its recently-launched commitment to ‘Helping Everyone Eat Better’, the grocer has also been reformulating products to increase vegetables and lower sugar and salt content.
A report by Action on Salt and Sugar last year said that “the ‘health halo’ of vegan products, due in part to their marketing and advertisement as healthy products, is masking a poor nutritional profile”.
The group has recently called for the government to make front-of-pack nutrition labels mandatory after a study showed they encourage consumers to choose healthier food options. It added the move could potentially prevent diet-related diseases such as obesity, strokes and heart attacks.
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Sainsbury’s has been implementing initiatives to encourage customers to increase their fruit & veg intake as well as diversify the protein choices they make and opt for healthier food products in line with the government’s Eat Well Guide. It also ran its Great Big Fruit & Veg Challenge through the Nectar app for the second year in a row.
Last month, the Food Foundation urged supermarkets to disclose plant-based and healthy food sales data and targets in order to help meet the UK’s net zero targets.
The organisation, which demanded more transparency from retailers, published a report that showed faster progress towards plant-based and healthier diets “will be vital if the UK is to shift to a net zero carbon economy”.
Sainsbury’s is also one of five major UK retailers to have signed up to a recent WWF pledge to make weekly food shop “greener” and help tackle the climate crisis.