Plant-Based Meat Faces COVID-19 Moment

Mike Troy
Editorial Director
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Plant-based meats are receving prominent placement by retailers like Kroger
The plant-based meat category is receiving prominent placement at retail as company's look to capitalize on a small, but fast-growing category.

Sales of plant-based meat are expected to top $1 billion this year and retailers have jumped on the bandwagon with store brand options. Even so, as shoppers thronged to retail stores in March it was evident they overwhelmingly prefer real meat, as beef, pork and chicken supplies were quickly depleted, while plant-based counterparts were slower to move.

Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that plant-based products are finding their footing and gaining more mainstream appeal. This is due in large part to a major trend underway for several years that involves a philosophical shift on the part of retailers when it comes to store brands. Retailers have become early adopters of trends rather than fast-followers and today it is common to see store brand plant-based meat products on shelves and aggressively promoted.

Whether the plant-based meat trend accelerates, and products see expanded space, ultimately depends on sales, of course, and on that front there are some countervailing forces. For example, COVID-19 related pantry loading helped clear slow moving inventory from retailers shelves, but trial usage in the category has suffered as dine-in restaurants have been closed since mid-March.

Fresh details on the category’s performance will be provided on May 5 when market leader Beyond Meat reports quarterly results. Until then, for more details on how retailers are approaching the plant-based category, check out this comprehensive piece in Store Brands.