National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has expressed dissident over supermarket chain Sainsbury’s plan to redesign its shopping aisles to reduce meat consumption. The largest farmers’ organisation in England and Wales, and has over 300 branch office, NSU expressed “concerns over the anti-meat agenda that Sainsbury’s is pursuing” and wanted to have urgent talks with the supermarket to “ensure all British produce can have pride of place on their shelves.”
Funded by Wellcome Trust, the £5 million project to cut down meat consumption is conducted as an experiment in association with Oxford university researches. As a part of the program, Sainsbury’s various outlets- from high street stores to superstores in the UK will take part in the new experiment. The researchers have recommended placing vegan substitutes on the same shelves as the meat products.
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “The NFU has major concerns over the anti-meat agenda that Sainsbury’s is pursuing in its recent involvement with in-store trials attempting to change customer buying habits. The trials are based on analysis from Oxford academics on the impacts of eating meat on climate change and public health – analysis the NFU firmly contests.
“Many farmers have worked with Sainsbury’s closely to reduce their carbon footprints. Livestock farmers are committed to playing their part in tackling climate change by carrying out activities as part of the farming industry’s Greenhouse Gas Action Plan. They also manage the large reserves of carbon stored in the soil of UK grasslands.
“The high-quality meat products produced by British livestock farmers are naturally rich in protein and are a good source of iron, zinc and essential vitamins. Unfortunately, the positive role red meat plays in a healthy, balanced diet is often overlooked.
“We are seeking urgent talks with Sainsbury’s to ensure all British produce can have pride of place on their shelves for customers to make up their own mind about what they buy.”
Sainsbury’s has also announced that shoppers opting for vegetarian products would receive loyalty points and gift vouchers. Sainsbury’s will also be providing customers with recipe leaflets and other promotional materials that summarizes on how one can reduce the meat consumption.