Sales of plant-based meat products increased 23 percent when those products were sold in the same department as traditional meat, according to a newly released study from the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and Kroger.
The study ran from December 2019 to February 2020 in 60 Kroger test stores across three states: Colorado, Illinois, and Indiana. Plant-based meat products were placed “in a three-foot set within the meat department,” according to the study.
Results varied by region. In the Midwest stores, where widespread adoption of plant-based meat is only just beginning to catch, sales were up 32 percent. Stores in the Denver, CO area, which the study says “already had a high concentration of plant-based consumers,” saw a 13 percent increase.
Other notable stats from the study include:
- Shoppers purchasing a wider variety of plant-based meats increased by 33%
- Shoppers increased their number of purchase occasions by 34%.
This rise in purchases of plant-based meat products isn’t too surprising, given the recent overall spike in demand. But retailers are still determining which section of the grocery store plant-based meat products belong in, and depending on where you go, they could be int he vegan section, with the organic meat products, or with regular ol’ Big Meat.
Despite demand, plant-based companies have gotten pushback over the last year or so from Big Meat over labeling their products as “meat.” In 2019, the PBFA actually sued Mississippi over the state’s restrictive labeling rules, which originally prevented plant-based meat companies from using terms like “burger” or “hot dog.” Those laws were overturned in Mississippi, but Arkansas, Missouri, and other states have passed similar legislation. What labeling laws are in any given state will inevitably affect where plant-based products wind up in the grocery store.
Of course the debate of where to put plant-based meats may be rendered less important if current trends in grocery shopping continue. Online shopping is still popular, and the uptick in coronavirus cases may ensure it stays high for some time longer. At the same time, leading plant-based meat companies like Impossible and Beyond have launched or are planning to launch direct-to-consumer sites. Though to be honest, you’d have to be a pretty dedicated fan of those products to take the time to buy in bulk directly. For plant-based meat companies looking to reach newer flexitarians and casually curious consumers, the grocery store aisle — and specifically the meat aisle — remains their best bet.