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06/01/2020

GFI report focuses on plant-based retail strategies

David Salazar
Managing Editor
David Salazar profile picture

The plant-based foods segment is booming, and U.S. retailers are using the category as a key part of their differentiated store brands offerings. That’s based on the 2020 Good Food Retail Report, the inaugural such report from the Good Food Institute. 

Sales data from Nielsen shows that for the eight-week period ended April 18, plant-based meat dollar sales increased by 265% — roughly six times faster than conventional meat sales growth. Additionally, more than 700 new plant-based meat, egg and dairy products were launched in 2019. The report highlights that leading retailers are taking the category seriously, with some offering as many as 150 plant-based meat products and 380-plant-based dairy products. On average, retailers have 70 plant-based meat products and 200 plant-based dairy products on offer. 

Plant-based eating is no longer niche. Retailers are leaving money on the table when they isolate plant-based sets in hard-to-find sections or use exclusive category language, like ‘vegetarian.’
Caroline Bushnell , GFI associate director of corporate engagement

Among the retailers highlighted is Whole Foods, which was awarded for having the best overall product assortment and best in-store foodservice offerings. Wegmans was recognized for having the most plant-based products on the shelf, registering more than 500 plant-based SKUs in its stores. 

Critically, many successful strategies involve merchandising plant-based offerings next to the standard products. Among those highlighted in the report for merchandising were Giant Food, Target and Albertsons. 

“Traditional meat eaters and flexitarians are embracing plant-based products, which means it is critical for retailers to employ plant-based strategies that attract the mainstream consumer,” said GFI associate director of corporate engagement Caroline Bushnell. “Plant-based eating is no longer niche. Retailers are leaving money on the table when they isolate plant-based sets in hard-to-find sections or use exclusive category language, like ‘vegetarian.’”

The report also highlights the importance of marketing strategies that appeal to tradtional meat-eaters and flexitarians, as well as the importance of in-aisle signage for refrigerated or frozen plant-based meats. 

Importantly, the category has not yet hit its ceiling. In recognizing Kroger’s King Soopers banner for best private label assortment — with a 35-item store brand plant-based offering, the report noted that only one category — milk — saw a private label plant-based option from every retailer assessed. Among the white spaces GFI identifies is plant-based yogurt. 

To read the full report, click here