The Kroger Co. has launched Simple Truth Emerge plant-based fresh meats, extending its flagship natural/organic own brand into one of the nation’s fastest-growing food categories.
Kroger said Wednesday that Simple Truth Emerge pea-based meatless burger patties and grinds are now available in its store banners nationwide. Plans call for another 50 plant-based food products to be added to the Simple Truth line during 2020. The Cincinnati-based supermarket retailer noted that Simple Truth Emerge also brings more affordable prices to the plant-based meat segment.
“Kroger is driving the growth of the plant-based category through our Simple Truth brand, valued supplier partnerships and industry-leading fresh merchandising strategies,” Joe Grieshaber, senior vice president of merchandising at Kroger, said in a statement. “Kroger anticipates interest in plant-based products to continue to grow in 2020, with the category being one of the key drivers of our natural and organic sales.”
Simple Truth plant-based products sport enhanced packaging, including a distinct plant-based icon, to make it easier for customers to find these items in stores and when shopping on Kroger.com, according to Kroger.
Located in the packaged traditional meat case, Simple Truth Emerge plant-based patties and grinds offer the same taste, texture and sizzle on the grill or in a pan as beef and are free of GMOs, dairy, gluten and soy, Kroger reported. The products provide 20 grams of pea-based protein per serving.
“Customers can find plant-based foods throughout Kroger grocery aisles that can be incorporated into one meal, or every meal,” Grieshaber explained. “And Kroger is excited to launch 50 additional Simple Truth plant-based products this year, expanding the selection we offer to our customers and growing our Simple Truth brand, which exceeded $2.3 billion in sales last year.”
To support the Simple Truth Emerge launch, Kroger Co. stores are running a natural and organic sales promotion, led by Simple Truth products, through Jan. 22 that includes 5x digital coupons offering more than $100 in savings and food sampling store events. During the promotion, customers can download coupons via Kroger.com or the Kroger app to get 75 cents off Simple Truth Emerge patties and $1.50 off Simple Truth Emerge grinds.
In December, Kroger kicked off a 16-week merchandising test with the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) at 60 stores in Denver (King Soopers) and parts of Indiana and Illinois (Kroger Central division). The company said the goal is to gauge the sales and engagement impact of three-foot plant-based meat sets in the traditional meat department. Along with plant-based patties and sausages, the pilot includes deli slices, roasts, seitan and jackfruit.
Simple Truth Emerge joins the Simple Truth Plant Based collection that Kroger launched last fall, including vegan chocolate chip cookie dough, oat milk, sour cream, deli slices, sausage and other products. The retailer first announced the plant-based line and gave a sneak peek last September at the Good Food Conference in San Francisco, where Gil Phipps, Kroger's vice president of Our Brands, spoke on a panel on the burgeoning plant-based foods market.
"Kroger continues to be at the intersection of plant-based curiosity and culinary innovation. As more of our customers explore and embrace a flexitarian lifestyle, Simple Truth Emerge is a fresh innovation that provides a flavorful meat alternative that cooks comparably,” Phipps commented. “Kroger believes 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 Simple Truth Emerge is an illustration of the commitment that Kroger has to providing our 11 million daily customers with new choices that fit their evolving eating styles and preferences.”
Overall, the Simple Truth portfolio includes more than 1,550 natural and organic products, with new items launching monthly, Kroger said.
In mid-July, PBFA and The Good Food Institute reported that U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods totaled $4.5 billion over the past year, marking growth of 11%. Behind dairy, meat was the second-largest of the plant-based food categories, with sales rising 10% over the past year to about $801 million and representing 2% of overall retail packaged meat sales.