Do grocers need a new approach for selling plant-based protein alternatives?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
The growth in plant-based foods is not being driven by vegans or vegetarians, but consumers who want to eat less meat and dairy for health or planetary reasons. New to the segment, they’re in desperate need of education in several areas.
What can retailers do? First, says Pete Speranza, CEO at Wicked Kitchen, a maker of plant-based meals, sauces and snacks, “They need to celebrate these products more. Explain why you added them and exactly how they’re helping the planet.” Not only does it help grocers look good, shoppers may feel good about a purchase that may or may not cost a bit more.
Second, “We can’t pretend that consumers know how to prepare plant-based food,” says Mr. Speranza. Retailers can teach them with information about swaps, cooking videos, demos, recipes and a knowledgeable staff.
Grocers can also make it easier for shoppers to find plant-based products through signage, shelf tags and marketing efforts. Rather than calling out products as vegan or vegetarian (since most consumers identify as neither), “retailers can appeal to more customers by using inclusive terms such as ‘plant protein’ or ‘plant-based,’” says Marika Azoff, a member of the corporate engagement team at the Good Food Institute (GFI).
While some chains have successfully created dedicated plant-based sections, the industry is moving toward integration with similar animal-based products.
In fact, says Julie Emmett, senior director of marketplace development at the Plant-Based Food Association (PBFA), a PBFA study at Kroger in 2020 found that sales of plant-based meat jumped 23 percent when they were merchandised in the refrigerated meat set alongside their conventional counterparts.
Ms. Azoff said, “By merchandising plant-based meat, eggs and dairy alongside their conventional counterparts…retailers can make plant-based more accessible to the many shoppers who purchase both.”
While near-term growth is supported by heightened attention to planetary, personal and animal health, raising the bar with bolder flavors, better textures and nutritional benefits may help take it to mass appeal.
Ms. Emmett said, “While animal meat is limited to products that’ve been in stores for decades, there’s no limit to what plant-based meat can be or made of.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do grocers have to reset their approach to plant-based foods with the category’s increased mainstream appeal? What do you think of integrating plant-based and animal-based offerings in store, no longer overtly messaging to vegans and vegetarians and other suggestions cited in the article?