The Kroger Co. this week announced an extension of its private-brand plant-based foods, including nondairy cheeses, oat milk ice cream and fresh chicken-less patties and grinds under its Simple Truth Emerge line.
Kroger introduced its Simple Truth Plant Based line a year ago and the Emerge label for meat alternatives early this year, positioning them as a more affordable option to the trendy and fast-growing branded items such as the Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat that appeal to vegan or flexitarian lifestyles. The more than 50 new items are exclusively available in stores operated by the Cincinnati-based retailer, which has nearly 2,800 U.S. locations.
The new chicken alternatives, packaged as Simple Truth Emerge Chick’n, are made of wheat-based protein and offer the same taste, texture and sizzle on the grill or in a pan as chicken and are free of GMOs, dairy and soy, Kroger said. They provide up to 21 grams of protein per serving and are located in the traditional packaged meat case.
The other new items will grow Kroger’s private-label plant-based line to more than 75 products by year-end.
“We’re excited to introduce the latest additions to our Simple Truth Plant Based collection to provide an expanded selection of affordable, delicious and quality products for our customers who live a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian lifestyle,” said Stuart Aitken, Kroger’s chief merchant, in a release. “We look forward to continuing to drive the growth of the plant-based category through our Simple Truth brand, which exceeded $2.5 billion in sales last year, and we anticipate increased interest in our plant-based selection in 2021 and beyond.”
Kroger said it developed the recipes for its new items behind a team of chefs, food scientists and nutritionists, saying they perfected tastes and textures for nondairy cheeses, oat milk ice cream and almond milk yogurt, while ensuring the products remained free of GMOs and more than 101 artificial preservatives and ingredients.
New products from the Simple Truth Plant Based collection include:
- Cheese Shreds (Cheddar and Mozzarella)
- Cheese Slices (Cheddar and Hot Pepper)
- Oat Milk Ice Cream (Strawberry Graham, Sea Salt Caramel, Peanut Butter Chip, Black Raspberry Chip, and Maple Pecan)
- Almond Milk Yogurts (Vanilla, Strawberry, Blueberry, and Mango)
- Cauliflower Dips (Buffalo, Spicy Queso, Tzatziki, and Cilantro with Jalapeño)
- Caesar and Ranch Salad Dressings
- Ready-to-Eat Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Ready-to-Eat Chocolate Truffle Brownie Batter
“As our customers’ eating styles and health and wellness goals continue to evolve, Simple Truth will continue to deliver an unmatched combination of quality and value for natural, organic and plant-based foods,” said Brad Studer, Kroger’s senior director of Our Brands. “We believe that everyone deserves to have access to fresh, affordable and delicious food, no matter who you are, how you shop or what you like to eat, and we will continue to innovate and inspire our selection of products to deliver on that very promise for our customers.”
Health and sustainability trends are converging around plant-based cooking. Although consumers report a decrease in red meat consumption over the past two years, according to Technomic’s Center of the Plate: Beef & Pork Consumer Trend Report, the majority (69%) eat beef at least once a week, and 47% choose pork. As plant foods continue to move to the center of the plate, retailers can appeal to meat eaters by experimenting with new cuts, flavors, cooking techniques and portion sizes.
Keep your meat offerings fresh with these four findings from Technomic’s report.
A version of this story published previously on WGB’s sister publication, CSP Daily News.
Go beyond the standard steak or pork chop, especially for younger customers: Twenty-five percent of millennials say they now choose cuts of beef they didn’t eat a year ago, and 32% say the same for pork. With nose-to-tail cooking growing in popularity, retailers have more access to cuts such as pork collar and pork skirt steak. On the beef side, chuck steak, shank and petit tenderloins are gaining fans. And chefs are doing more with beef and pork trim and scraps in an effort to reduce waste and boost the protein in grain and veggie dishes.
Burgers and steaks still lead when it comes to consumers’ preferred beef preps, but they’re calling for a greater variety than simply grilled beef. The report mentions ethnic dishes, such as Mexican fajitas and enchiladas, Japanese beef teriyaki and Middle Eastern gyros. As for pork, consumers prefer grilled, barbecued and smoked preparations, and they want to see more pork belly and ribs on menus.
Entrees are not the only way to attract meat eaters: Forty-two percent of consumers show interest in side dishes with beef and 30% in those with pork. Appetizers are not as popular a platform for these red meats—only 14% of respondents show a preference for pork and beef starters. Dedicated carnivores, however, are more likely to order beef and pork appetizers, and with the trend toward menuing smaller portions of red meat, this mealpart can be a good vehicle for innovation. Think Asian dumplings or brisket street tacos, for example.
Animal welfare is important to today’s consumers, with roughly half saying it’s important that meat is sourced from cattle and pigs that have been treated humanely. Hormone-free and antibiotic-free meat is also a priority. While quality and taste are the leading drivers behind beef and pork orders in restaurants (43% and 37%, respectively), retailres who market sustainability and ethical sourcing can spur purchase, especially among women and younger diners.