Sainsbury’s took one giant leap for vegan-kind this morning with the opening of the UK’s first ‘Meat-Free Butcher’. Here’s a look inside the pop-up’s radical display of just how far plant-based meat owns the food market in 2019.
Location, Location, Location
Set against the contemporary backdrop of Bethnal Green, the London-based pop-up blended seamlessly into the hipster vegan scene, with jackfruit burger specialist Biff’s Jack Shack and hairdresser-come-café The Canary along the same stretch.
What’s On The Menu
The smorgasboard of plant-based meat was laid out in perfect mimicry of a ‘traditional’ butcher. An initial look at the selection showed hits such as Sainsbury’s Love Your Veg! shroompups and smoky ‘Jack’ quarter pounder, as well as startup frontrunners like Viveka’s veggie bacon.
Customers were able to peruse the various selection, with the on-hand butcher offering practical tips on how to prepare plant-based meats at home. James Hamilton, a buyer for Sainsbury’s, said that the ‘trepidation’ from the dichotomy faced by customer’s who want to use plant-based meat but don’t necessarily know how to cook with it, set the gears in motion for the butcher. As a result, customers were given instruction on how to prepare a number of different meals, including ‘pulled’ BBQ jackfruit!
Sainsbury’s and the Start-Ups
One element which was perhaps the most surprising was the amount of start-ups which featured in the shop, such as Gardein and Vegetarian. Talking to some of the Sainsbury’s representatives, they said that the overwhelming focus of corporations like Sainsbury’s was not to take over start-ups, but work collaboratively. Acknowledging the fact start-ups cornered the market on plant-based produce for so long, Sainsbury’s decision to be inclusive marks the future of partnerships between start-ups and larger companies.
The End of the Butcher?
The experience was unnaturally natural; the ready acceptance with which one adjusts to plant-based produce in place of a meat counterpart is perhaps the self-reflective experience Sainsbury’s itself is having. Could this small pop-up be the model from which butchers of the future will model themselves? The changing landscape of consumer demand is materialising before our very eyes, and as World Meat-Free Week draws to a close, perhaps this marks the start of a revolution within the butcher industry.
Read more about what this could mean for the meat-industry here.
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