Oxford University scientists, along with supermarket chain Sainsbury’s are conducting a novel experiment to make shoppers buy more fresh fruits and vegetables and reducing meat consumption. This involves redesigning the supermarket aisles so as to change the consumers shopping behavior. Funded by Wellcome Trust, the £5 million project is a follow up towards a study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US last year. It was concluded that the cutting down meat consumption could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 to 70 percent and lessen global mortality rate by about 10 percent.
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. In addition, 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.
Marco Springmann, who leads the Oxford scientists who will work with Sainsbury’s, said: ‘Imbalanced diets, such as diets low in fruits and vegetables, and high in red and processed meat, are responsible for the greatest health burden globally and in most regions.”
Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at Oxford University, said: “Red meat is high in saturated fats and that is not good for us. The consumption of meat is also linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Most advice suggests that we should eat around 70g a day. However, most people eat a lot more than that. We have to cut that amount, and persuade people to eat more fruit and vegetables instead.”
Judith Batchelar, director of brand at Sainsbury’s added: “Shoppers can now choose from a much greater variety of produce than they did in the past, especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables. “That gives them a greater opportunity to make meat-free choices, which is what we are seeing today. The question is: how can we take that further?”