Sainsbury’s unveils UK’s first meat-free butchers

The UK’s first meat-free butchers opened its doors to the public today (Friday June 21).

Launched by Sainsbury’s during World Meat Free Week (which runs from June 21 to June 23), the traditional style butcher in East London offers an array of cuts and joints derived from 100% plant-based alternatives such as mushroom, jackfruit and even pea protein.

Open for three days in Bethnal Green, customers can choose from over a dozen fresh foods, before the boneless bites are weighed, wrapped and then put into customers’ own bags and containers to take home. For those unsure about giving plant-based food a go, visitors also have the chance to taste many of the products entirely for free.

The in-store butcher is specially trained for plant-based cooking, sharing recipe advice and tips to help customers get involved in World Meat Free Week, which encourages people to try more plant-based foods.

The supermarket chain said it has seen a 65% increase in sales of plant-based products year-on-year – with sales having doubled in the last year compared to the previous year.  This comes as many are still daunted by the prospect of cooking with plant-based foods, including 46% of those following diets which don’t include meat (pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan).

Despite its rising popularity, over half (56%) of Brits have never tried what they would consider to be a ‘meat alternative’ even though 52% hope to increase their number of meat-free days. The top reasons cited for this are: worrying that they won’t like the taste (40%), not knowing how to cook plant-based foods (36%) and believing that plant-based food is only meant for vegans (24%).

The top words ‘meat-eaters’ associated with a plant-based diet were:

  1. Vegetables
  2. Tofu
  3. Healthy
  4. Expensive
  5. Unappetising
  6. Boring
  7. Chickpeas
  8. Eco-friendly
  9. Rabbit food

Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) people have served plant-based versions of meat products to their family, friends or a partner and have told them it’s meat. Out of these, only 8% said they couldn’t fool them.

Sainsbury’s buyer James Hamilton said: “Whilst we’re seeing a huge climb in sales of our plant-based foods, we know from conversations with customers that there is a sense of trepidation about cooking with them. So, our meat-free butchers has been launched to encourage people to get up close to the products, try what they like and take home some valuable cooking advice and recipe inspiration.

“We have carefully selected the products on offer from the growing range of over 100 plant-based products now available at Sainsbury’s, so customers are in for a real meat-free treat when visiting the butchers!”

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