This week, advocacy group The Good Food Institute (GFI) released its first “Good Food Retail Report,” which rates the top 15 retailers in the United States (“top retailers”) on their product assortment, merchandising, and marketing of plant-based alternatives to meat, eggs, and dairy products. Whole Foods Market and Kroger-owned King Soopers have the best overall assortments, offering 360 and 410 plant-based products, respectively—which represent 50 percent more plant-based options than other retailers which average 270 products. King Soopers offers 38 store-brand plant-based products, the largest number in that category among the top retailers. When it comes to in-store prepared options—such as dishes at the hot bar and salad bar, along with grab-and-go items—Whole Foods offers three times more plant-based options than other top retailers. Wegmans is the winner when looking at the most on-shelf plant-based products 530 products, including twice as many plant-based meat products and four times as many plant-based cheese products as most other top retailers.
As a whole, the top retailers offer an average of 70 to 90 plant-based milk products while 50 percent of stores offer a vegan egg product. More than 80 percent of the top retailers offer at least 10 varieties of refrigerated plant-based meat products. When it comes to store placement, 91 percent of the retailers offer plant-based products alongside their conventional counterparts in at least two categories and 65 percent stock at least one plant-based meat product in the animal meat aisle—making those products more visible to a wider range of consumers. Giant Food does the best merchandising of plant-based products in this sense, offering them alongside their animal-based counterparts in 10 of 11 categories.
According to GFI, several top retailers are further responding to current trends with new launches in 2020. Kroger plans to launch at least four new plant-based product types in the second and third quarters of this year, and Target aims to more than double its store-brand plant-based assortment in 2020. “Kroger anticipates interest in plant-based products to continue to grow in 2020, with the category being one of the key drivers of our natural and organic sales,” Joe Grieshaber, Kroger Senior Vice President of Merchandising, said.
While many retailers have expanded their plant-based offerings and introduced them into various areas in their stores, GFI says all have room for improvement amidst the boom in demand for plant-based foods—an industry that is predicted to grow by 28 percent every year to reach $85 billion by 2030. “Top US retailers are ensuring that all Americans have access to delicious and affordable plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy,” GFI Executive Director Bruce Fredrich said. “We are reaching a clear tipping point, and no retailer wants to lose out to competitors with better plant-based strategies.”
This week, new data released by trade group Plant Based Food Association and research firm SPINS showed that sales of plant-based foods increased by 90 percent during the height of food-stockpiling to prepare for lockdown during the pandemic in mid-March, with another spike of 27 percent in the four weeks thereafter—outpacing total retail food sales by 35 percent. “We’ve seen significant increases across our plant-based offerings since the early stages of COVID-19,” Dan Epley, Whole Foods Market Vice President of Grocery, said. “Our teams continue to work hard to maintain our leadership across these market segments during these unprecedented times.”