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02/22/2022

Planting the private label seed

Experts share how plant-based suppliers can get into private label.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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At the Plant Based World Expo in New York, held in-person last December, plant-based food and beverage suppliers lined up the aisles cooking meat-alternative dishes from chicken parm sandwiches to specialty pizzas. The trade show was buzzing, as the category is truly booming.

Bloomberg Intelligence data, for example, said plant-based meat and dairy alternatives could reach 5% and 10% of their respective global market shares in the next decade, while the global plant-based alternative-meat market may grow to $28 billion by 2025. Bloomberg also reported that this could translate into a $74 billion opportunity by 2030 if sales growth and penetration levels mimic those of plant-based milks to reach 5% of the total meat and fish market. Plant-based meat accounted for just 0.3% of total meat sales in 2020, but growth is accelerating and plant-based meat retail sales could reach $118 billion in 2030, per the report.

However, when visiting the Plant Based World Expo, where Store Brands moderated a panel on building private label, it was evident that many of the plant-based suppliers haven’t quite transitioned into building out a private label program.

Here are tips from three leaders:

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Joan Kavanaugh

Joan Kavanaugh, VP, national buying, ALDI U.S.

 

Q: What can you share about the ALDI private label plant-based offerings?

The plant-based category is such an exciting one and we have been blown away by the response to these newer products, particularly our vegetarian and vegan line Earth Grown. Earth Grown started as an ALDI Find back in 2018 and received such a positive response from our customers that less than eight months later we expanded the line and made it a part of our everyday selection.

Earth Grown has quickly become one of our most popular brands and one that we see a lot of excitement about on social media when new items arrive on-shelf. We are constantly introducing new seasonal flavors and options through ALDI Finds, and we also offer plant-based milk alternatives from our Friendly Farms line.

Q: What are you looking for from suppliers in the plant-based space?

This is such a rapidly growing category with new innovations in the pipeline every day. We’re always looking for supplier partners that we can collaborate closely with to help track consumer trends and quickly bring new plant-based products to market.

For example, in recent years, one of the main trends we’ve noticed is customers embracing the idea of being “flexitarian,” and wanting to limit their consumption of animal-based products but not eliminate them entirely. We’ve taken this insight into consideration as we continue to evolve our offerings.

That being said, the biggest tip I have for suppliers is to really have a pulse on the consumer, what they’re looking for and what they’re interested in. Retailers want to look at their suppliers as trusted partners who can help bring shoppers the products they want most.

 

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Juan De Paoli, VP of Our Brands, Kroger

 

Q: What's new with Kroger's plant-based private label offerings?

We are developing our Simple Truth plant-based products to taste so good that even non-vegan
customers will enjoy them. When we are developing and tasting new plant-based foods, we are adamant that they must be delicious and appealing to vegans and flexitarians alike. Last year alone, we added more than 30 new plant-based products under the Simple Truth brand and expanded into our Deli/Bakery department.

Some of the plant-based Simple Truth items are featured in our 2022 Food Trends report, including our plant-based baking mixes and cheesecake. We’ve found that there is a mindset shift in the purchasing of plant-based foods. Customers look to them for indulgence, comfort and nostalgia, while still lowering their carbon footprint. Uncovering this consumer sentiment allows us to think outside the box and deliver an array of plant-based options to delight all of our cravings.

Q: What are you looking for from supplier partnerships?

Future growth in plant-based categories will largely come from flexitarians, not vegans. This means plant-based foods need to be as good or better than their animal-based counterparts, in taste, nutrition and functionality.

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Nicole Atchison, CEO, PURIS Holdings

 

Q: What can you share about PURIS and its private label plant-based offerings?

Retailers and consumers are just scratching the surface of plant-based. We’re still very early in the plant-based movement despite how much the category is discussed. Our world consists of developing innovative plant-based products for literally every aisle of the store. Our assortment includes plant-based meat, dairy, RTDs, milks, yogurts, snacks, cereals, eggs and more. PURIS has the capabilities to utilize off-the-shelf formulas that can get customers into the marketplace quickly. We also have the ability to co-create unique offerings designed for the private brands’ customer base.

Q: How does PURIS work with retailers to develop plant-based products for private label?

PURIS is uniquely suited to help our customers develop and grow their private brand offerings due to our deep knowledge and expertise in plant-based foods. Every day PURIS is developing plant-based products that taste amazing, are nutritious, have a clean label and are affordable. Private brands are a great entry point for customers to try plant-based products and PURIS understands how quickly the plant-based space is growing.

We’re constantly innovating and bringing new and on-trend products to the marketplace. By closely collaborating with our customers, we work to understand their plant-based needs and the purchasing behaviors of their customers. Ultimately, PURIS’s goal is to help the customer navigate through the journey of plant-based products and create an exceptional consumer experience.