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Plant-based meat takes center stage at Kroger

Vegan burgers, sausage, deli slices, roasts, seitan, and even jackfruit are moving to the meat department for a trial run at the nation's leading grocery retailer.

At the supermarket where I shop, the plant-based meat products live above the butter, between the cheese and the yogurt. They are nestled in with the tofu noodles, sauerkraut, kim-chi, and other random items – it's like the Island of Misfit Toys for food things.

On the one hand, it means that non-meat eaters don't have to peruse the aisles of animal parts. But mostly it feels kind of like a secret; it's like insider baseball for vegans. We know how important product placement in supermarkets is, and I can't imagine that squirreling away the Beyond Burgers in a strange place does much for their cause.

Which is why an announcement from the Plant Based Food Association (PBFA) and Kroger, the leading grocery retailer in the United States, is interesting and exciting. For 16 weeks, consumers will find plant-based meat “sets” within the conventional meat department at 60 Kroger stores across Denver, Indiana, and Illinois. The goal of the test is to measure the impact on sales and customer engagement of changing where plant-based meats are found.

“In addition to this quantitative sales analysis, we are also conducting shopper interviews and shopper marketing communication, to obtain the most comprehensive results,” writes Julie Emmett, Senior Director Retail Partnerships for PBFA. “Our goal is to provide retailers with actionable data to inform merchandising decisions and optimize plant-based food sales. In addition to plant-based burgers and sausages, this test includes plant-based deli slices, roasts, seitan, and jackfruit.”

The data gained from the test will be used to provide insights on behalf of the entire industry, adds Emmett. I can't imagine that it won't help broaden exposure to these products, and be a succesful way to encourage more meat eaters to try some flexitarian options. It may not be great for the meat industry, but it would be great for the people and the planet, not to mention the animals. Welcome to the meat department, plant-based meats! May you continue to expand and conquer.

For more information, visit the Plant Based Foods Association.

Vegan burgers, sausage, deli slices, roasts, seitan, and even jackfruit are moving to the meat department at the nation's leading grocery retailer.