- Kroger will begin selling the Impossible Burger at 1,700 company-owned stores across 29 states starting today, according to a news release. The plant-based product, made by California-based Impossible Foods, will also be available for home delivery and curbside pickup.
- The fast-selling burger joins Kroger’s growing lineup of plant-based meat, including selections from Beyond Meat as well as the grocer’s Simple Truth Emerge line, which launched earlier this year. Kroger also sells a growing suite of vegetarian products under its Simple Truth Plant Based line that rolled out in 2019.
- “Plant-based food remains one of the fastest-growing categories at Kroger,” Joe Grieshaber, Kroger’s senior vice president of merchandising, said in the release. “We’re excited to continue growing our selection, especially as more customers than ever are purchasing meat products made from plants.”
With its growing roster of branded and private-label meat alternatives, Kroger is making deep investments in a fast-growing category. And the urgency to expand its selections has grown in recent weeks. As meat plants close down temporarily due to coronavirus outbreaks among workers, grocers like Kroger are limiting customer purchases amid reduced supply.
According to Nielsen data emailed to Grocery Dive, fresh plant-based meat had already seen sales increase by 269.5% in March and April, before many restrictions went into place. With more plant-based meat — and less actual meat — on shelves, those numbers are likely to grow even higher.
With this expansion, the number of retail stores selling Impossible Foods’ products has increased 18-fold since the beginning of 2020, the manufacturer said. Impossible Foods, which started out in 2016 as a restaurant-only product, started its retail push at a small handful of retailers last September. It’s now available at about 2,700 grocery stores nationwide.
"Our intention was always for 2020 to be the retail acceleration year, but we definitely accelerated it because of the decline in dining in," Chief Communications Officer Rachel Konrad told sister publication Food Dive last week. Konrad told Food Dive the company has been working with Kroger for about a year.
This is the second big retail expansion Impossible Foods has made so far in 2020. Last month, the company announced its products would be sold at 777 Albertsons-owned stores — Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions in Southern California, and Safeway stores in Northern California and Nevada.
Part of this expansion was made possible by a $500 million funding round that closed in March, which provided Impossible Foods with more funds to invest in research and innovation and scale up for a bigger push into retail.
But it was also made possible by the company’s partnership with co-packer OSI Group. Impossible Foods struck a manufacturing deal with one of the world’s largest food producers last July, ahead of its debut in retail stores. Prior to this partnership, there was a shortage of Impossible Burgers earlier last year. OSI, which has more than 65 facilities in 17 countries, gives Impossible Foods the bandwidth it needs to ensure that it will not see a shortage — even with a large retail customer like Kroger.