A survey of 620 sandwich and wrap choices from eight retailers found that less than 3% contained no meat, fish, egg or cheese. That was despite consumers wanting to adopt plant-based diets for health and environmental reasons, an Eating Better poll found.
“We’re calling on food manufacturers and retailers to help consumers choose healthier, environmentally-friendly diets by offering a better range of delicious sandwiches made with vegetables and pulses,” said Eating Better’s Sue Dibb.
“Our research shows that many people are trying to be planet and health conscious and looking to eat less meat. Going meat-free at lunchtime is a simple way to cut down. But consumers seeking healthier sandwiches with a lower environmental impact are being let down.”
Heart disease, obesity and cancer
A predominantly plant-based diet was healthier and could cut heart disease, obesity and cancer, she claimed.
Farm animals are responsible for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, the same amount produced by cars, she added.
She encouraged food firms to be more innovative and provide a better choice of delicious, healthy, environmentally-friendly sandwiches and wraps with vegetables and pulses to help customers go meat-free at lunchtime.
Sandwich poll findings
- 570 sandwiches (92%) contained meat, fish or cheese
- 17 out of 620 sandwiches (less than 3%) contained no meat, fish, egg or cheese
- Sandwiches with meat, fish or cheese are often the higher fat, salt and calorie options
- Non-meat and fish sandwiches are between half and three quarters the price of meat or fish options
Source: Eating Better
Example fillings already on the shelves include falafel, hummus, Mexican three bean, Moroccan vegetables, veggie Bombay, chickpea and sweet potato, avocado and herb and artichoke and basil.
“The good news for consumers is that it doesn’t need to cost more,” she claimed. “We found non-meat or fish sandwiches cost less on average.”
Eating Better surveyed eight retailers – Asda, Boots, Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Tesco and Waitrose – and four high street sandwich chains – Pret a Manger, EAT, Subway, Greggs – between October 2014 and January 2015.
Sandwiches remain popular against changing diets
Despite a surge in low-carb and gluten-free diets, another survey found sandwiches were still 30 times more popular than salads for consumers eating out of the home.
Just 2.8% of on-the-go choices were salad compared with 31% filled baguettes, a survey from packaging firm Planglow claimed.
Rachael Sawtell, Planglow’s marketing director, said: “We know sandwiches – especially baguettes – have been a favourite for some time though we were surprised at how significantly the French stick now dominates the grab and go market given the perceived preference for healthier choices.
And while more nutritional and allergen information is being displayed on food and drink packaging than ever before, our sales suggest consumers still favour the sandwich when it comes to eating on the go.”
South Wales and the west of England were the biggest fans of baguettes overall (29% of total products sold in the area), but the least likely to have their sandwich made to order (2.9%) or consume a beverage out of home (6%).
Planglow claimed 18% of sandwiches and wraps were made to order and just 7.2% were made with a longer shelf life (up to 72 hours).
Consumers in the south of England consumed the most made to order products, comprising a quarter of all goods sold in the region.