Woolies says vegan food labels are not tricking many

Woolies says vegan food labels are not tricking many

SUPERMARKET giant Woolworths says existing regulations for labelling, product safety and composition provide appropriate coverage for both real beef and plant-based alternative meat products.

It's research shows only seven per cent of 5700 customers surveyed said they had purchased a plant-based item in error.

The grocery store chain, Australia's largest, has contributed to the discussion around vegan food labels which use terms like beef and meat, and images of animals, on packaging despite containing no animal-sourced ingredients.

It's submission to the current senate inquiry into definitions of meat and other animal products says grocery shoppers are savvy and discerning in the products they choose to buy and the vast majority are able to make informed decisions about the purchase of plant based products.

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Woolies does, however, attempt to have its cake and eat it too, with a sizeable section in it's submission titled "Woolworths Initiatives to Support Fresh Australian Meat."

It waxes lyrical about investing millions every year promoting the fresh real meat category, being 'deeply invested in its continued success' and its pride in sourcing 100 per cent of its fresh pork, beef, lamb and chicken from Australian suppliers.

Woolworths, which runs more than a thousand supermarkets nationwide and serves around 20 million customer transactions a week, says that while the plant-based category has continued to grow, it remains a small category when compared to fresh meat.

Financial year 2021 sales of red meat outsized plant-based protein sales by a factor of 60-to-1.

Still, research conducted by the company in March this year showed that 62pc of customers purchase meat or dairy-free products at least sometimes.

"Plant-based protein sales over the last year reflect that the majority of sales (88pc) are skewed towards mainstream customers who also bought meat, versus dedicated vegetarians and vegans," the submission said.

"In our experience, the majority of sales growth in plant-based protein is a result of new customers to the category.

"There are also a growing number of benefits that the plant-based sector is bringing to Australian businesses including farmers, food scientists and manufacturers."

Woolworths listed some examples of this, including Mulgowie Farming Company in Queensland supplying green beans to Woolworths directly and also selling their 'imperfect' beans to one of Woolies' plant-based suppliers.

At the end of the day, the fresh food people say it's in no one's interest, most of all the customer, for a product to be purchased by mistake.

This story Woolies says vegan food labels are not tricking many first appeared on Queensland Country Life.