Iceland has become the latest UK supermarket to join the great meat free free-for-all, with the launch of its first – and it claims Britain’s largest – range of frozen vegan food.
The 13 products and ready meals are appearing in special “meat free” cabinets in the aisles of Britain’s chilliest food chain, all of them healthier and more environmentally friendly alternatives to meat products. With more than 900 Icelands dotted around the UK, thousands of Britons are now able to tuck into one of its microwaveable or oven-cooked meal that contains zero animal products.
The new products put Britain’s ninth biggest supermarket chain on a par with the bigger players, who have realised the country has a growing appetite for meat free food and are targeting a lucrative and expanding market. More than a quarter of Britons now say they are trying to cut back on the amount of meat they eat. Already tapping into that trend, Tesco is stocking Beyond Meat and Vivera products, while Sainsbury’s sells Naturli Food’s “fake meat” range.
And it is a particularly welcome move when it comes to ready meals, considering that a recent report found supermarkets were failing customers looking for quick dishes they can buy straight from the shelf. Of 10 supermarkets surveyed on the provision of vegan or vegetarian ready meals, in fact, Iceland came last, stocking a grand total of zero.
It has more than made up for that disappointing showing now, however. Earlier this year, Iceland launched its vegan No Bull burger, which, like American success stories such as the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, has the look as well as taste of meat. The No Bull burger outsold Iceland’s meat burger equivalent this summer. Other new offerings include an expanded range of No Bull products – including jalapeño burgers, mince, sausages and chilli and rice – as well as No Chick Crispy Fillets, Asian Burgers, Green Vegetable Balls and No Chick and No Porkies Paella.
Neil Nugent, Iceland’s head chef, said: “When we started spotting consumers using our No Bull burger to create their own recipes on social media, we knew we had to create a full vegan range. The range incorporates entirely new ingredients to us including tofu and wheat based proteins, and demonstrates how tasty and diverse vegan food can be. We wanted consumers to be able to create their own dishes at home and experiment with new flavours, but also provide the convenience of ready meals.”
While it may have been slow to the meat free table, Iceland is leading the retail pack in other environmental ways. This year it said it would become the first major retailer in the world to stop using plastic packaging on its own-brand products within five years. It has also pledged to remove palm oil – which along with livestock farming is a major contributor to deforestation – from its own-brand products by the end of this year.