Tesco protested about washing out the green color in advertisements for plant-based foods

Tesco has been rebuked by the UK’s advertising watchdog after the country’s largest supermarket chain failed to prove that its Plant Chef burgers and foods made with plant-based proteins were more environmentally friendly than meats. their equivalent.

The Advertising Standards Authority, which launched a crackdown on the so-called “Greenwashing”ban Tesco from repeating a series of TV, radio, online and newspaper advertisements that claim that consumers can make a difference to the planet by purchasing products.

Regulators around the globe are targeting companies that exaggerate the environmental credentials of products and services in this way.

In the US, the securities regulator has a plan to prevent exaggerated claims about the responsible credentials of investment products. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has also committed to tackling misleading green claims.

Tesco’s Plant Chef products, launched in 2019, are among the ranges launched in recent years by retailers and food manufacturers using proteins from peas, beans, and other plants to create meat-based alternatives like burgers and hot dogs.

Such products are often marketed primarily on the basis of sustainability credentials, after a landmark 2019 report by the EAT-Lancet committee urged a global transition to “multiple” more plant-based foods and fewer animal-source foods” to reduce emissions and promote biodiversity.

The ASA investigated Tesco’s advertisements, which featured a woman “doing her best for the planet” by switching to Plant Chef, after receiving complaints. In its defense, Tesco relied on general evidence that a diet that includes meat has a greater impact on the environment.

But the supermarket “does not have any evidence regarding the full lifecycle of any of the products in the Plant Chef product line, or of the burgers featured in the advertisement,” the ASA said.

It told Tesco to “ensure that in the future they do not make environmental claims on their products unless they have sufficient evidence to substantiate those claims”. The regulator said adverts lacking “strong evidence” could be “misleading”.

The watchdog said last year that it would scrutinize claims related to energy, waste and food sustainability as part of a broader project to “[shine] a brighter regulatory focus on environmental issues”.

“We are committed to making it easy for our customers to incorporate plant-based meat alternatives into their diets and recipes,” said Tesco. After all, small changes can make all the difference.

“We offer hundreds of plant-based options and while we are disappointed with the results, our customers can continue to count on us to help them enjoy a healthy diet. More balanced drinking with more affordable and delicious plant-based products on offer.”

A second complaint, against advertisements by rival supermarket Sainsbury’s, was not accepted. Those ads, which don’t mention specific brands, say that “by mixing half chickpeas with half chicken in your curries, your dish will be better for you and better for your onions.” pure”.

The ASA says those ads refer to generally accepted principles of an eco-friendly diet. It dismissed complaints that imported chickpeas could be less environmentally friendly than domestically produced meat, as “in some cases, food grown abroad and imported has high emissions.” lower carbon compared to the same food produced domestically”.

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