Fresh Food

Plant-Based Meats Hit Stride in Pandemic

Walmart introduces Impossible Burger; Beyond Meat sales soar
Photograph: Shutterstock

The pandemic has been a boon to grocery sales across the country as families are cooking and eating nearly almost all their meals at home. Plant-based meats have been a big beneficiary of consumer experimentation, and the category has seen sales soar.

For the week ending July 26, sales of refrigerated plant-based proteins were up 113.6% over the same period a year ago, according to IRI. The 113.6% increase in refrigerated plant-based protein translates into over $4 million more sales than the same week a year ago, notes Anne-Marie Roerink, principal with 210 Analytics. The total plant-based protein category was up more than 50% with sales of $21.3 million.

Beyond Meat grocery sales were up 194.9% in the second quarter. The company recently began selling value packs of its burgers in retailers across the country, including Walmart and Target. The packs feature pricing that is more in line with traditional beef offerings. Stellar grocery sales helped offset the company’s decline in the foodservice sector, which saw a decrease in sales of 60.7%, as many restaurants were forced to close or were limited to takeout only in the first months of the pandemic.

“I am proud of our record net revenues and growth during a very challenging period. As the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the foodservice industry, we repurposed assets and repacked and rerouted products to meet increased consumer activity in the retail aisles. Throughout the quarter, our brand experienced an enviable combination of consumer trends—increasing household penetration; increasing buying levels per household; and strong repeat purchase rates of nearly 50%, well above the success threshold for consumer packaged goods,” said Beyond Meat President and CEO Ethan Brown.

Another plant-based meat purveyor also is making big strides during the pandemic. The nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, will now be selling Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger. The retailer will be offering the 12-ounce packages in its nearly 2,100 stores, where it will be merchandised in the fresh meat section. It will also be available online for pickup or delivery.

With the addition of Walmart locations, Impossible Burger will be available in more than 8,000 brick-and-mortar grocery stores across all 50 states. The expansion represents a more than 50x increase of Impossible Foods’ retail footprint since March 2020, when the company received an additional $500 million in funding, which coincided with the onset of the pandemic. The product was first introduced to supermarkets in September 2019.

“Impossible Foods’ goal is to make the global food system sustainable. To do that, Impossible Burger has to be available everywhere people shop for meat,” said Impossible Foods founder and CEO Patrick Brown. “More Americans buy meat for their families at Walmart than anywhere else. We’re confident that once Walmart customers try Impossible, they’ll become enthusiastic advocates of our products and our mission.”

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