by Ben Davis
It was not long ago that a plant-based eater had to make a separate trip to a natural and organic store like Whole Foods to find a real selection of meat, dairy and other alternatives. This is no longer the case, thanks to recent programs launched by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) in partnership with leading grocers Kroger and Hannaford.
The groundbreaking test with Kroger took place in 60 stores from late 2019 to early 2020. The data was clear: when America’s largest grocery chain placed plant-based products in the meat department, sales of those items increased by 23% on average. A clear sign to the food retail world that consumers are now looking for these products in the traditional meat aisle, and there is money to be made in offering them in this place.
More recent data has shown steep increases in consumption of plant-based food during the pandemic months with 50% growth in plant-based customers and 75% growth in sales. The numbers prove that American shoppers want healthier, more sustainable options now more than ever.
PBFA’s newest program with leading retailer Hannaford spans beyond the meat department to the dairy and shelf-stable sections of the store. The partnership thus far has highlighted the importance of creative merchandising to drive consumer attention to the new products that are available. The Plant Based Foods Association is working directly with the grocer to shine a deserving spotlight on these sought-after foods, while also educating grocery employees to understand the benefits that these products have to offer.
These efforts not only increase the bottom line for the grocery store and the brands they carry, but builds community while doing it. There is a true excitement that comes from participating in the movement towards a more plant-based world – an elevated sense of purpose that we can both do our jobs successfully and help people feel healthier and happier while doing so.
Julie Emmett, Senior Director of Retail Partnerships for PBFA, has taken the reins on these initiatives:
PBFA‘s role is to actively support the opportunities and minimize the challenges that a shift in merchandising presents. The incredible results that Kroger and Hannaford have shared have encouraged PBFA as well as major brands to create advisory teams to ensure industry-wide success of this shift in merchandising across the 17+ plant-based food categories available. The opportunity for retailers to provide shoppers with the options they crave – and to profit from those efforts – is becoming limitless!-Julie Emmett
When the most influential grocery businesses in the United States are on the front lines of this shift, we can only expect the rest to follow. This transformation of consumer habits is here to stay and we look forward to following the great work of PBFA and their partners for many years to come!