The research was done by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), an association representing 170 plant-based food companies, and U.S retail giant Kroger.
To test how placement affected sales, the organizations placed all plant-based meat in a three-foot set within the meat department of 60 stores in three states: Colorado, Indiana, and Illinois, over 12 weeks between December 2019 and February 2020.
The test yielded some impressive results: plant-based meat sales were up 32 percent during the test period in the Midwest region, which PBFA links to the area's increasing number of flexitarians. The Denver area, which PBFA says already had a high concentration of plant-based consumers, also saw impressive results, with plant-based meat sales up 13 percent.
Shopper interviews also revealed some interesting consumer insights, with nearly all interviewees presuming that 'plant-based meats would be in the meat department near their animal-based meat counterpart, explaining that the tests made plant-based alternatives easier to find and purchase'.
In a statement sent to Plant Based News, Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at the Plant Based Foods Association, said: "This research proves that it is important for retailers to place plant-based meat where shoppers expect to find it: in the meat department. Other retailers are sure to make this change with this new data in hand.
"The increase in sales in the Midwest demonstrates there is tremendous opportunity for plant-based meats to succeed everywhere, including in the nation’s heartland."
'Niche to mainstream'
Sean Brislin, merchandising director for Kroger, added: "This test provides one more proof point that plant-based meats have moved from niche to mainstream.
"Kroger continues to experience double-digit growth in the plant-based category, and this test demonstrates the viability of shifting product placements to reach even more customers.
"We thank the Plant Based Foods Association for partnering with us on this insightful merchandising research project.”