Kroger and PBFA to test three-foot plant-based meat retail concept in 60 stores

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Kroger's Gil Phipps (second from right) shared his insights on all things plant-based at the Good Food Conference in San Francisco last week
Kroger's Gil Phipps (second from right) shared his insights on all things plant-based at the Good Food Conference in San Francisco last week

Related tags: plant-based meat, Kroger, plant-based, Good Food Conference

Kroger has teamed up with the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) to trial dedicated three-foot plant-based meat sets within its conventional meat department in 60 stores in Denver and parts of Indiana and Illinois.

The 20-week test is being conducted in partnership with Kroger's data analytics subsidiary, 84.51° and will help Kroger and the wider industry learn how best to merchandise the next generation of plant-based meat products and how best to engage with shoppers, said Julie Emmett, PBFA senior director of retail partnerships.

“We are confident that this test will demonstrate that plant-based meat sales will increase even more when consumers have easier access to them.”

Kroger unveils new plant-based sub brand under Simple Truth umbrella

The test was announced as Kroger unveiled a new plant-based collection under the Simple Truth brand during the Good Food Conference​ in San Francisco last week that will include fresh meatless burger patties and grinds as well as plant-based cookie dough, pasta sauces, sausages, deli slices, dips, and other products.

In a panel debate chaired by FoodNavigator-USA, Kroger VP of Our Brands Gil Phipps said: “We’re seeing fantastic growth in plant-based. We’re at an intersection of curiosity and culinary. Customers are really open to plant-based alternatives when they taste delicious.”

Simple Truth Plant Based Chorizo Sausage kroger
Gil Phipps: 'We’re at an intersection of curiosity and culinary. Customers are really open to plant-based alternatives when they taste delicious.'

53% of Kroger’s female customers are looking to reduce meat

Asked about where best to merchandise plant-based dairy and meat alternatives, Phipps noted that natural and organic product sales really took off w​hen they became integrated into mainstream sets, with Kroger data showing that more than a third of its customers view themselves as flexitarian and “have a specifically intentional meatless day at least once a week.”  

He added: “Our female customers, 53% of them are looking to reduce meat, 44% of males. We’re still selling a lot of meat, but there is a lot of interest here.”

Asked whether the future of plant-based meats is in the refrigerator – with SPINS data​ showing growth of 37% YoY for fresh products (albeit off a small base) vs 2% growth for frozen plant-based meat (which is much more mature) – he said: “Not necessarily but I do think that that is where the excitement is.”

To boldly go... into the meat case

While Beyond Meat was the first plant-based brand to seek placement in the fresh meat case alongside regular meat with its ready-to-cook Beyond Burger, all of the major players in plant-based foods and several meat companies are now piling into this segment, including Nestlé, Lightlife, Kellogg/Morningstar, Conagra Brands, Perdue, Tyson, Hormel, and Impossible Foods, which is gearing up for a high-profile retail launch this fall.

kroger oatmilk
Kroger's new plant-based collection includes oatmilk, fresh meatless burger patties and grinds as well as plant-based cookie dough, pasta sauces, sausages, deli slices, dips, and other products.

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