Plant-Based Meat Substitutes in the Flexitarian Age: An Audit of Products on Supermarket Shelves

Demand for plant-based meat substitutes is growing globally for nutritional and environmental reasons, with Australia the third-fastest growing vegan market worldwide. This study aimed to profile and compare plant-based meat substitutes (mimicking meat) with equivalent meat products, and 2015 data. An audit undertaken in May (updated in September 2019) from four metropolitan Sydney supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, IGA), collected nutrition information and Health Star Rating (HSR) from 137 products (50 burgers, 10 mince, 29 sausages, 24 chicken, 9 seafood, 15 other). Mean (± standard deviation (SD)) and median (range) was calculated for nutrients and HSR. Plant-based options were generally lower in kilojoules, total and saturated fat, higher in carbohydrate, sugars, and dietary fibre compared with meat. Only 4% of products were low in sodium (58–1200 mg/100 g). Less than a quarter of products (24%) were fortified with vitamin B12, 20% with iron, and 18% with zinc. HSR featured on 46% (3.6–4.4 stars). On-pack claims were vegetarian/vegan/plant-based (80%), protein (63%), non-genetically modified/organic (34%), gluten free (28%). Product numbers increased five-fold (↑429%) in four years. The plant protein trend has prompted innovation in meat substitutes, however wide nutrient ranges and higher sodium levels highlights the importance of nutrition guidelines in their development to ensure equivalence with animal-based proteins. View Full-Text

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