Faux meat, often cast away to the grocery store’s refrigerated aisles, sells much better when moved into the high-traffic meat department.
Consumers purchased 23% more plant-based meat on average when the products were moved into the traditional meat aisle, according to a study conducted by Kroger Co. and supported by the Plant Based Foods Association. The findings are a boon for the makers of meat substitutes, who aim to grow by winning over carnivores, because vegetarians are largely already on board.
The study tracked sales in 60 Kroger stores across Colorado, Indiana and Illinois over 12 weeks. Plant-based meat was placed next to animal meats, replacing seasonal or low-performing items, and sales were compared to control stores where it was kept in the refrigerated aisle’s vegetarian section.
The location of meat alternatives in stores has long been a point of contention. Product placement is fastidiously planned and tracked by grocers, and as major players like Beyond Meat Inc. and Impossible Foods Inc. roll out new retail strategies, shelf space will be a linchpin in how customer’s choose which meat they buy.
The coronavirus pandemic is already tilting the scales. Disruptions to the meat supply chain led shoppers to buy more meat alternatives. Sales of plant-based meat products surged 264% in the U.S. in the early months of the lockdown.
Kroger saw its plant-based meat customer count increase by more than 50% from March to June, compared to the same period a year prior, with customers buying more frequently and in greater quantities. Sales rose more than 75%, according to a statement.