Sainsbury’s head of agriculture has said the retailer faces a challenge in not ‘getting ahead’ of its customers on cutting red meat consumption.
Barney Kay suggested people in the UK were already eating more vegetarian meals during the week, but the move away from meat would become even more pronounced as Greta Thunberg’s generation takes charge of the shopping basket.
Speaking at a Sainsbury’s event at Oxford Farming Conference on Tuesday (January 7), Mr Kay pointed to research which showed customers aged 16-24 were more focused on buying food according to their beliefs and values.
The Savanta CR&S Tracker survey of 1,500 people found the three issues most important to young shoppers were retailers reducing their packaging, food being sourced from Britain and UK farmers being treated fairly.
Mr Kay said: “Our generation have traditionally grown up as meat eaters and are flexing, but the next generation are making decisions very much based on issues which concern them about the planet they are inheriting.
“They are buying in terms of their beliefs and things they see as important.
“Our challenge as a business is not to get ahead of our customers, it is to give them various different options.
“If we give customers choice in terms of really tasty vegetarian and vegan products, but at the same time continue to improve the quality of our beef, people will continue to buy it.”
Mr Kay’s comments come shortly after Farmers Guardian revealed Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis had promised the supermarket would ‘play its part’ in cutting UK meat consumption.
Mr Lewis made the pledge, which went unreported until November last year, at the 2018 launch of a joint Tesco-WWF initiative to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket.