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Fake Meat Sells Better When Sold in the Meat Department

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Looks like fake meat sales are better when the fake meat is sold with the real meat in the meat department.

That’s according to the San Francisco-based Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), the trade association representing 170 plant-based food companies, and The Kroger Co., the largest grocery retailer in America, which found that plant-based meat sales increased by 23% when sold in the meat department.

PBFA and Kroger teamed for a study that began last December and ran 12 weeks through February. At 60 test stores in Colorado, Indiana, and Illinois, all plant-based meat products were placed in a 3-foot set within the meat department with the goal to find out how plant-based meat products would sell when sold in the same case as real meat products.

In the Midwest region, where more flexitarians are emerging, according to the PBFA, plant-based meat sales were up 32% during the test period. In the Denver area, which already had a high concentration of plant-based consumers, the test revealed plant-based meat sales up 13%.

“This research proves that it’s important for retailers to place plant-based meat where shoppers expect to find it: in the meat department,” said Julie Emmett, PBFA’s senior director of retail partnerships. “Other retailers are sure to make this change with this new data in hand. The increase in sales in the Midwest demonstrates there’s tremendous opportunity for plant-based meats to succeed everywhere, including in the nation’s heartland.”

Sean Brislin, Kroger’s merchandising director, said the test provides one more proof point that plant-based meats have moved from niche to mainstream.

“Kroger continues to experience double-digit growth in the plant-based category, and this test demonstrates the viability of shifting product placements to reach even more customers,” he added.

The research included sales analysis, shopper interviews and e-mails, education for store personnel and audits. The test was conducted in partnership with Kroger’s data analytics subsidiary, 84.51°.

Common interview responses from shoppers included how “excited and impressed” they were about the many options within the new set, the PBFA said. Nearly all shoppers presumed the plant-based meats would be in the meat department near their animal-based meat counterpart, explaining that the test made plant-based alternatives easier to find and purchase.

The latest data from Kroger indicates that plant-based meat sales remain strong. From March through June, Kroger increased its plant-based meat customer count by more than 50% compared to last year at the same time. In addition, customers purchased more often and in greater quantities than before, which led to sales growth of more than 75% during this time.

Kroger’s trends mirror the total U.S. plant-based food showing plant-based meat sales growing 61% through the end of April, according to the PBFA.

“As plant-based meat sales continue to grow, with sales increasing even more rapidly compared to pre-pandemic levels, this research becomes even more compelling for retailers to locate plant-based meats in the meat section if they want to maximize sales by reaching more consumers,” said Michele Simon, the PBFA’s executive director.

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