Kroger is expanding its presence in the private label and meat substitute categories with the launch of Simple Truth Emerge plant-based burger patties and ground meat. The products join existing plant-based products in this line that include vegan chocolate chip cookie dough, oat milk, sour cream, deli slices and sausage.
Simple Truth Emerge products are designed to have the same taste, texture and sizzle when cooked as beef and are free from GMOs, dairy gluten and soy. The burgers are following a trail blazed by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which are appearing on menus and in grocery stores across the U.S.
Simple Truth has been a successful organic brand for Kroger, with sales of more than $2.3 billion in 2019. The retailer plans to build on this momentum by introducing an additional 50 Simple Truth plant-based products in 2020.
“Kroger anticipates interest in plant-based products to continue to grow in 2020, with the category being one of the key drivers of our natural and organic sales,” said Joe Grieshaber, SVP of Merchandising at Kroger in a statement.
The introduction of the meatless Emerge products comes as no surprise. Sales of plant-based meat hit $5 billion in 2018, and the category could grow more than 25% annually to hit $85 billion by 2030, according to UBS. The grocery retailing giant is striking while the market is young and ripe for competition: Beyond makes about half of its revenue from grocery store sales, but Impossible only started selling its products in grocery stores in September, according to CNBC.
Kroger’s own research has found that many U.S. consumers, particularly Millennials and women, are embracing a “flexitarian” diet that puts a larger emphasis on vegetables. Additionally, nearly 33% of shoppers are integrating more plant-based foods into their lifestyle while reducing their meat and dairy intake.
The new offerings from Kroger could potentially find their way to Walgreens as well, where Kroger’s Simple Truth natural and organic products have appeared on shelves at 35 stores as part of a pilot program. Some of the pharmacy locations now carry fresh meat, produce, dairy and frozen foods, which could open the door for interest in plant-based meats.