UK supermarket chain Co-op has dramatically reduced the cost of its vegan products to combat the “unfair” price disparity between plant-based and conventional foods. The products are now priced the same as their animal-based counterparts.
Burgers and sausages in the chain’s plant-based range, GRO, were formerly priced at £3 but have now more than halved in price. GRO vegan mince, also formerly £3, now costs £1.75.
The reductions have been made possible by a £1.7m investment into the range. Altogether, the prices of 29 products have been slashed.
The Co-op is hoping the move will not just save families money, but also cut carbon emissions — it is aiming for net-zero emissions by 2040. To help it achieve this target, it is also switching its home delivery vans to electric and ending the sale of plastic “bags for life”, which many customers don’t reuse.
The push for price parity
The higher cost of plant-based and cell-cultured products is a well-known barrier when it comes to convincing consumers to switch away from animal products. Several companies are now trying to address this.
Impossible Foods has cut prices three times within the past year, for both foodservice and retail. Most recently, it cut recommended prices for US retail stores by about 20%. It plans to continuously lower prices through economies of scale, eventually underpricing animal products.
VFC has also said it plans to underprice chicken, while companies such as Future Fields are aiming to slash the cost of cell-cultured meat. One Indian cultured meat company claims it has already achieved price parity.
“It’s an industry-wide standard that plant-based alternatives are usually priced higher than their meat and dairy counterparts,” said Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food chief executive. “This disparity is unfair to those following vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian diets. It’s Co-op’s ambition to make our plant-based range, GRO, even more accessible to our members and customers, helping them make decisions that collectively will have an impact on the world we all share,”