The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), the trade association representing 170 plant-based food companies, and Kroger, the largest grocery retailer in America, found that plant-based meat sales increased by 23% when sold in the meat department.
This ground-breaking study, which placed all plant-based meat sold at the grocery store in the meat section, ran for 12 weeks from December 2019 through February 2020. The 60 stores that took part in the test spanned three states including: Colorado, Indiana, and Illinois.
In the Midwest region, where more flexitarians are emerging, plant-based meat sales were up 32% during the test period. In the Denver area, the test also showed impressive results, with plant-based meat sales up 13%.
“This research proves that it is important for retailers to place plant-based meat where shoppers expect to find it: in the meat department,” Julie Emmett, Senior Director of Retail Partnerships at the Plant Based Foods Association said in a statement. “The increase in sales in the Midwest demonstrates there is tremendous opportunity for plant-based meats to succeed everywhere, including in the nation’s heartland.”
Common interview responses from shoppers included how “excited and impressed” they were about the many options within the new set. Nearly all shoppers presumed the plant-based meats would be in the meat department near their animal-based meat counterparts, explaining that the tests made plant-based alternatives easier to find and purchase.
“This test provides one more proof point that plant-based meats have moved from niche to mainstream,” stated Sean Brislin, Merchandising Director at Kroger. “Kroger continues to experience double-digit growth in the plant-based category, and this test demonstrates the viability of shifting product placements to reach even more customers.”
Despite recent changes in the food industry resulting from COVID-19, the latest data from Kroger indicates that plant-based meat sales remain strong.
From March to June 2020, Kroger increased its plant-based meat customer count by more than 50% compared to last year at this time. In addition, customers purchased more often and in greater quantities than before, which led to sales growth of more than 75% during this time.
“As plant-based meat sales continue to grow, with sales increasing even more rapidly compared to pre-pandemic levels, this research becomes even more compelling for retailers to locate plant-based meats in the meat section if they want to maximize sales by reaching more consumers,” said Michele Simon, Executive Director of the Plant Based Foods Association.