The rise of plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy at retail

In 2019, more than 700 new plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products hit the shelves at U.S. retailers as consumer demand continued to increase. Plant-based is one of the biggest trends and a key driver of retail growth, with sales growing 14 times faster than total store food sales. 

High-value consumers

Shoppers purchasing plant-based products spend 61% more than the average shopper, according to SPINS data. Retailers will want to provide an array of great-tasting plant-based products to keep these valuable customers in their stores. This will also attract new customers looking for a broad selection of products. No retailer wants to lose these high-value consumers to competitors who have better plant-based assortments. 

Target consumers: omnivores and flexitarians

Mainstream consumer segments—traditional meat eaters and flexitarians—are seeking more plant-based products. 98 percent of those who purchase plant-based meat in America also purchase meat products. And 39% of Americans are actively trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. Meanwhile, 60% of consumers want to reduce their meat consumption

For more about target consumer groups—from the demographics of early adopters like flexitarians, Millennials, and Gen Z to mainstream consumers—please see our Consumer Insights.

Product assortment & private label product development

Retailers who want to capitalize on this fast-growing demand can start by stocking a wide assortment of plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products across categories. Retailers can also consider developing compelling private-label products, prioritized by the size, growth, and household penetration of the respective plant-based and animal-based categories. Furthermore, retailers can give customers a chance to sample professionally prepared plant-based products by adding them to foodservice offerings and prepared foods.

Download our Good Food Retail Report to see our benchmarking of the top 15 U.S. retailers on their product offerings across plant-based meat, egg, and dairy categories, including own-brand products. 

Merchandising tactics and the future of the meat department

By merchandising plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy alongside their conventional counterparts, retailers can make plant-based options more accessible to the many shoppers who purchase both plant-based and conventional meat. Along with shelf tags, retailers can also leverage “plant-based” aisle signage to communicate store location and product features to customers. Finally, retailers can showcase plant-based categories in endcaps and special displays, especially alongside analogous animal products.

View our guide on how to increase sales with effective merchandising tactics.

Marketing and promotions strategies

Retailers can successfully market plant-based proteins by upping the indulgence factor and featuring tasty plant-based options as alternatives to animal-based options. Retailers can appeal to more customers by using inclusive terms, such as “plant-based” and “plant-protein,” instead of limiting identity-based terms, such as “vegan” or “vegetarian.” Retailers can leverage existing wellness and nutrition programs, as well as seasonal campaigns, and offer an in-store demo program to increase category exposure. New cross-category plant-based themed promotions are another great way to appeal to customers.

Learn more about marketing and promoting plant-based foods.

Activity from major food industry players

Large meat and food companies are taking notice of plant-based products’ growing popularity. The top six U.S. meat companies, including Tyson, JBS, Cargill, and Conagra, are all active in plant-based foods. On the investment front, plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies drew more than $741 million in investments in the first half of 2020 alone—more than in all of 2019.

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Good Food Retail Report 2020

Learn plant-based sales strategies and see how the top 15 U.S. grocery retailers rate on their plant-based assortment, merchandising, and marketing.

Strategies and analysis

From retail sales data to consumer research to marketing and merchandising guides, GFI’s resources showcase strategies and case studies in leveraging plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products to grow category and total store sales. 

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Merchandising plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy at retail

Discover the best practices in retail merchandising, aisle signage, and shelf tags for plant-based meat, egg, and dairy.

Assorted plant-based and cow-based dairy products in a supermarket display

Marketing and promoting plant-based proteins

This quick guide offers evidence-based marketing and promotion strategies to increase plant-based sales at retail.

Download
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Consumer insights

Understand consumers, demographics, adoption, motivations, category descriptors, and opportunities for future research in alternative proteins.

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Company Database

Explore the landscape of plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation companies including consumer brands, manufacturers, and ingredients companies.

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State of the Industry Report: Plant-Based Meat, Eggs, and Dairy

This analysis of the U.S. plant-based meat, egg, and dairy market covers sales data, investment analytics, consumer insights, and more.

Watch our on-demand webinar on merchandising and marketing strategies for increasing plant-based food sales at grocery stores.

Retail strategies webinar

Watch GFI’s Plant-Based Strategies for Retail webinar for a closer look at which marketing and merchandising strategies are winning, with a special guest from Whole Foods Market. 

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Resource

Plant-based retail market overview

See an overview of U.S. retail sales data for plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products, including market size, growth, and purchase dynamics.

Schedule a meeting with our retail experts

GFI’s Corporate Engagement team serves as a valuable partner, providing no-cost advising to retailers. We have advised top U.S. retailers on strategies for product assortment, private label development, merchandising, and marketing. 

Our services and resources include:

  • Category-level trends & analysis
  • Key product whitespaces
  • Private-label innovation and R&D support
  • Merchandising & shelving tactics
  • Marketing and promotions guidance
  • Shopper marketing program development
  • Consumer research and insights

We can work under NDA for complete confidentiality.

Our experts

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Caroline Bushnell

DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT

Caroline Bushnell leads GFI’s Corporate Engagement team in their work with companies and investors around the world to accelerate the alternative protein industry.

Areas of expertise: food industry, alternative protein ecosystem, market trends, consumer insights, CPG marketing, emerging industry opportunities.

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Emma Ignaszewski

CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT PROJECT MANAGER

Emma Ignaszewski manages projects to catalyze corporate innovation that will radically transform the food system and deliver alternative protein products that compete on the key drivers of consumer choice: taste, price, and convenience.

Areas of expertise: retail, strategy, marketing, communications.

Kyle Gaan

RESEARCH ANALYST

Kyle Gaan analyzes data and market research to identify meaningful insights and trends within the plant-based food industry.

Areas of expertise: consulting, market and consumer research, data analysis, video production.