Plant-based Meat’s Place in the Meat Case Might Surprise You
June 17, 2021
There’s no denying that the plant-based meat movement has momentum.
Giving credit where credit is due, the meat alternative category grew 83.9% in volume and 72.8% in dollars throughout 2020, according to IRI Integrated Fresh data.
Plant-based Meat’s Popularity Compared to Meat and Poultry
Consumers are clearly open to the idea of trying something new. CivicScience revealed that 53% of shoppers are very or somewhat open to trying plant-based meat. A subset of consumers — 22% — believe it is better for their health and the environment, even though they are unsure of the real pros and cons.
Before we go too far, it’s also essential to put plant-based meat popularity in context to the $82.5 billion in meat and poultry sales during the same period in 2020. Alternatives are only a sliver of the gigantic meat pie, making up 0.6% of sales, 0.3% of volume, and only 3.0% of SKUs.
Meat and poultry sales were $82.5 billion throughout 2020, according to IRI Integrated Fresh data.
Alternatives are only a sliver of the gigantic meat pie, making up 0.6% of sales.
CivicScience also points out that 69% of consumers are either not interested or are unaware of the options. Yet, giving shoppers a wide variety of options and choices means focusing on “and” rather than “or” when it comes to your meat category strategy.
So, if plant-based options are here to stay, the big question for retailers becomes “where do I put it in the meat case?”
Placement Is Pivotal
An IRI Market Landscape Study, funded by the National Pork Board, completed interesting research into the market structure of the meat space. By focusing on how consumers organize the category with actual purchase behavior, they came away with some significant “ah-ha” findings.
1. Separate Markets for Meat Versus Meat Substitutes
The IRI research found that plant-based meat substitutes are a closed set. Ultimately, should not be considered part of the fresh meat set. Instead, meat alternatives should be considered as part of processed meats.
2. Plant-based Options and Poultry are your Best-bet Neighbors
IRI discovered that while the plant-based category continues to evolve, data shows that it is most affiliated with chicken and turkey products. A plant-based consumer would most likely align with a poultry consumer. It’s recommended that plant-based meat be shelved next to chicken and turkey products in the refrigerated and frozen aisles.
3. Plant-based and Pork Don’t Mix
Since the meat-substitute buyer is not a pork consumer, it’s crucial to the success of both categories that they don’t overlap. Especially when you look at the fresh pork buyer’s value, you don’t want to erode revenue opportunities. Based on a Numerator Panel, the pork buyer’s average basket spend is $104.57 versus a plant-based buyer at $88.49. Plus, the pork purchase frequency is 6.5 versus 4.1 for meat alternatives.
Understanding consumers, their purchase behavior, and how to optimize placements is vital. Whether it’s for pork or plant-based meat, decisions on sets and merchandising need to be helpful for all shoppers. This will put your team in a position to win, always.
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