French supermarket chain Carrefour says it has opened the first vegan butcher counter in the meat-loving country.
New vegan meat products being merchandised butchershop style at Carrefour come by way of the Unilever-owned Dutch vegan meat brand, The Vegetarian Butcher.
“Bringing these two types of products together simplifies the shopping experience for our customers who want to go vegan. The second big first is that Carrefour is the first major retailer to market these delicious products that have already won over Burger King,” Carrefour said on social media post.
While other countries including the U.S. have seen a rise in blended protein merchandising, the French supermarket chain, the eighth largest in the world, says this marks a first for the country. Carrefour operates more than 12,000 locations.
Unlike the U.K. or the U.S. where vegans make up more than five percent of the population, numbers much lower in France, about one percent. Much of that is attributable to the French Paradox—the nation’s love of rich foods, particularly animal products, that are enjoyed without as many negative health effects as seen in other Western countries. Part of that is because, despite their proclivity toward animal foods, the French also favor fresh vegetables—and lots of them. Obesity rates in France are considerably low, about one in ten compared with 42 percent in the U.S.
But despite France’s diet preferences, like other markets, it’s also beginning to see a consumer shift toward healthier options, with flexitarianism on the rise. In a Twitter post, Carrefour said the new butcher positioning will make it easier for consumers to fill their plates with plants.
Vegan food in France
According to the French research institute Xerfi, sales of vegetarian and vegan products across the country are on the uptick. Between 2019 and 2021, sales rose by 17 percent year on year—a number expected to increase to a market value of nearly $700 million.
In 2021, the restaurant Ona, located in Arès, became the first vegan restaurant in the country to earn a Michelin star.
The news comes just weeks after the Carrefour Foundation awarded grants to several Polish plant-based startups. The jackfruit-based Food Jack sells ready-to-eat vegan meal kits; Unclean, a vegetable substitute for minced meat is made from soybeans; Yoush, which calls itself a wholesome, complete, plant-based meal, can be prepared in five minutes. The fourth grant recipient was KuMin.Sys, a tech startup aimed at reducing food waste across the supply chain.
Late last year, Carrefour was one of several European supermarket chains to cut ties with Brazilian beef suppliers over links to Amazon deforestation.
In 2018, a Carrefour location in Paris dedicated a third of the store to vegan, organic, and gluten-free options.