Demand for meatless meat is so high that restaurants are having trouble keeping up. But among the vegan meat-replacement brands, Beyond Meat is the retail supermarket leader, boasting on its website that you’ll “find it in the meat aisle.” But will you?
Reuters spoke to grocery chains about where and how they’re displaying Beyond Meat’s burgers, sausages, and crumbles. While Beyond Meat would like to see its products in the meat case alongside beef burgers and pork sausage, many grocers are displaying it in the vegan or alt-dairy section alongside tofu and cashew cheese, or even the frozen-food section. One grocery company merchandiser, who says his dozens of stores sell Beyond Meat in both the dairy and meat sections, says consumers “generally view this as a new food category.”
Because Beyond Meat seems to be a product distinct from the tempeh or tofu vegetarian hot dogs and nuggets, there’s not yet an established location where shoppers beeline to find them. When I wondered if the Trader Joe’s-esque Lucky’s Market in my town stocked Beyond Meat, I went to the meat case (no dice). Some of the grocers Reuters interviewed mention that stocking Beyond Meat alongside animal-derived meat could lead to consumer confusion, which is why they’ve sequestered it with soy milk and the like. No doubt this also appeases traditional meat producers. Still other grocers say because there’s no obvious location for it, frozen food aisles are the default option.
Beyond Meat is well aware, though, that product placement is a major factor in the brand’s growth, saying in regulatory filings that changes to where it’s merchandised could dilute its appeal to mainstream meat consumers. As Impossible Foods and Nestle are closer to launching their own vegan meat alternatives in grocery stores, grocers need to sort this out sooner rather than later. What say you, readers? I’d be curious to know where your grocery store stocks vegan meats, and whether you’d prefer to see them in the meat/frozen/dairy aisle.