The Results are in: It’s Time For Retailers to Stock Vegan Meat Products in the Meat Case

Impossible Wegmans
©Impossible Foods at Wegmans

Following our in-depth look into a protein aisle to encompass both meat and plant protein together in the supermarket; the PBFA has stated following an intensive trial that “it is important for retailers to place plant-based meat where shoppers expect to find it: in the meat department.”

As we reported last September, the trial, carried out by the PBFA and Kroger, was to be rolled out across three states in the USA, to analyse consumer reactions to the stocking of vegan meat in the animal meat case. The study actually started in December 2019 and ran until February 2020, and the results were finally published last week, some five months later.

The results now reveal that, following the placement of plant meats with animal products, on average sales were up 23% for plant-based (up to 32% in the Midwest), demonstrating that meat-eaters are actively choosing to decrease their meat consumption, and crucially – when it’s made easy, they will follow the lead and purchase meat alternatives.

supermarket trolley
© Юлия Завалишина-stock.adobe.com

We already know that the plant-based giants Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have been holding their places in the meat aisle in the USA, and in some instances have smashed sales against their animal counterparts, Businesswire reported in May 2020: “Impossible Burger made its retail debut in September 2019, when it immediately rocketed to the No.1 item sold on the East and West coasts, easily outselling all ground beef from cows at many grocery stores. At one grocery store in Southern California, Impossible Burger outsold the next most popular single product by more than six-fold.”

Squeaky Bean
©Squeaky Bean

In the UK a similar pattern has been emerging. Supermarkets including Tesco and Sainsbury’s have been introducing vegan products with their animal counterparts since April 2019 and haven’t looked back. British brands such as The Meatless Farm and Squeaky Bean have been aligned with Beyond and Impossible’s mission to directly target animal meat sales and this means going head to head in the same aisle, and it’s working.

According to the Kroger study, Midwest USA had the biggest increase in numbers; the authors explain that the number of flexitarians is much lower in the Midwest so this supports the evidence that product placement alone significantly changes consumer choices. In the Midwest, the test set attracted 32% more new shoppers over control stores, shoppers purchasing a wider variety of plant-based meats increased by 33% and shoppers increased their number of purchase occasions by 34%.

Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at the Plant Based Foods Association commented: “This research proves that it is important for retailers to place plant-based meat where shoppers expect to find it: in the meat department. The increase in sales in the Midwest demonstrates there is a tremendous opportunity for plant-based meats to succeed everywhere.”

If meat-eaters do in fact choose to purchase meat alternatives when they are visible, available, and attractive – this equates to less consumption of meat and many lives saved. Not to mention the associated positive environmental effects. Now it’s time for retailers and brands to put this into action.