- A new report from InMarket ranks Whole Foods first among the top 10 grocery chains for buyers of meat alternative products. The retailer was followed by Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Publix and Harris Teeter.
- The ranking is based on vegetarian-leaning customers' real-time foot traffic from May to March this year. Some of the meat alternative these shoppers purchased include Beyond Meat, Boca, Morningstar and Quorn.
- The research found that specialty grocers Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Sprouts have outpaced mainstream grocers because they typically have more vegetarian meat alternatives. However, several traditional supermarkets also made the top 10. Aldi is the only discount grocer to rank in the top 10.
Although specialty grocers ranked higher, mainstream retailers Publix, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Stop & Shop and Ralphs made the list because they've increased stock on vegetarian items as demand grows. These grocers are often less expensive, more accessible and offer customers a one-stop shopping experience because of the large number of SKUs they hold.
The meat alternatives market has boomed in the past couple of years and could be worth $140 million globally by 2029, according to Barclays. Sales of plant-based meat also grew 23% in 2018 compared to 2017, the Good Food Institute found. The item is now a choice among meat eaters and flexitarians who want to reduce their meat intake for health or sustainability reasons, not just vegans or vegetarians. GFI reported that 12% of households purchased plant-based meat in 2018, a number that will likely increase this year as major brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods expand their retail offerings. While Beyond Meat is already in grocery stores, Impossible is looking to make the move some time this year.
The sheer number of companies popping up in the market is indicative of the growing trend. While meat giant Tyson Foods divested a stake in Beyond Meat before its IPO, it is now planning to introduce its own meat-alternative products this year. Other competitors are launching their own alternatives and more brands like Nestle are entering the space.
With the growth in products and appetite for these items from consumers, both specialty and traditional grocers will benefit from putting more of them on their shelves. Grocers could also take a page from Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s book and launch their own line of meat-alternative products, particularly those like Publix and Whole Foods that have a loyal following for their private label lines.