Eating Better analyses health and environmental impact of popular sandwiches

22 May 2019

Sandwiches are an iconic staple of the British diet: last year we bought an incredible 4bn ready-made sandwiches, at a cost of £8bn. 76% of consumers buy lunch to eat out of home for an everyday occasion. Eating Better’s latest survey of sandwiches available on the high street shows that shifts by retailers in this category has the potential for a big health, environment and animal welfare impact.


Eating Better crunched the data on 620 sandwiches available from popular lunch time retailers. They found that some retailers, particularly Pret and Tesco, have made progress in terms of diversifying their sandwich ranges to include more plant-based options. However 85% of sandwiches on the market still have meat, fish or cheese as their main ingredient.

Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director, Food Foundation says: Sandwiches and ready meals make up a significant part of our diet. Only 14% of ready meals and 30% of sandwiches are meat and fish free. Replacing meat with veg is a critical part of our journey to eating better and living longer, but the supermarkets and manufacturers are not yet doing enough to help us make that journey.’

If you’re looking to understand where the meat comes from in your sandwich you will struggle. 33% of meat sandwiches contained meat of unknown origin. This includes all of the meat sandwiches at Boots and Subway, and the vast majority at EAT. The research found only 2 sandwiches carried any better meat certification which consumers could find helpful when making their selection.

Simon Billing, says: ‘Retailers are letting their customers down on transparency of provenance of ingredient meat in sandwiches. We would like to see this made clear across all meat sandwiches. We are also calling on all retailers to commit to higher standards of animal welfare, for fresh meat consumers have choice to go for ‘better’ options but not for sandwiches.’

To accelerate progress, Eating Better are calling on retailers to:

• Provide more meat-free lunch options by increasing the range of delicious plant-based sandwiches.
• Make provenance of ingredient meat clear on packets.
• Commit to better meat and dairy by offering products that meet a certified credible standard, such as free range.

To view the full report click here.


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 

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