The Kroger Co. is expanding its year-old Simple Truth Plant Based own-brand line with more than 50 new items, including the addition of plant-based chicken products in its Simple Truth Emerge meat alternative brand.
Kroger said Wednesday that new Simple Truth Plant Based offerings include more dairy-free options — such as cheese shreds and slices, oat milk ice cream, almond milk yogurt and creamy salad dressings — plus “trend-inspired” recipes like ready-to-eat brownie batter and cauliflower dips.
Also making their debut are Simple Truth Emerge Chick’n patties and grinds, a plant-based option to fresh chicken patties and grinds that Kroger said comes in response to rising demand for the Simple Truth Emerge burger patties and grinds launched in January. Simple Truth Emerge Chick’n brings the same taste, texture and sizzle on the grill or in a pan as chicken and contain no GMOs, dairy or soy, according to the company. Displayed in the traditional packaged meat case, the chickenless patties and grinds provide up to 21 grams of wheat-based protein per serving.
The Simple Truth Plant Based product roster is slated to number more than 75 items by the end of 2020, Cincinnati-based Kroger reported.
“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,” Stuart Aitken, chief merchant and marketing officer at Kroger, said in a statement. “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.”
Simple Truth Plant Based premiered in September 2019 with the rollout of more than 20 products, such as vegan chocolate chip cookie dough, oat milk, sour cream, deli slices, sausage and other offerings. The line has since expanded to include vegan- and flexitarian-friendly snacks, spreads, dips, desserts, burger patties and grinds, and other items.
The Simple Truth Emerge plant-based meat rolled out to Kroger Co. supermarkets following 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). In the pilot, the company assessed the sales and engagement impact of three-foot plant-based meat sets in the traditional meat department. The test included plant-based patties and sausages, deli slices, roasts, seitan and jackfruit.
In its 2020 food trends outlook in January, Kroger noted that a rising number of consumers are embracing flexitarian living, prioritizing healthier food choices and reducing their intake of meat and dairy products. To develop the Simple Truth Plant Based products, Kroger’s team of chefs, food scientists and nutritionists tested a range of recipes for non-dairy cheeses, oat milk ice cream and almond milk yogurt to match the taste and textures of their dairy counterparts, while ensuring the products remained free of GMOs and more than 101 artificial preservatives and ingredients.
Flavors in the latest Simple Truth Plant Based products include cheddar and mozzarella cheese shreds; cheddar and hot pepper cheese slices; strawberry graham, sea salt caramel, peanut butter chip, black raspberry chip, and maple pecan oat milk ice cream; vanilla, strawberry, blueberry and mango almond milk yogurt; and buffalo, spicy queso, tzatziki, and cilantro with jalapeno cauliflower dips.
“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,” commented Brad Studer, senior director of Our Brands at Kroger. “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.”
The U.S. market for plant-based foods reached $5 billion in 2019, driven by year-over-year sales growth of 11.4% — five times faster than overall U.S. retail food sales, according to the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and The Good Food Institute (CFI). The largest plant-based categories were milk, meat, meals and ice cream, with fast-growing items including meat, creamer, yogurt, cheese, condiments and dressings, and spreads/dips/sour cream/sauces.
“We're thrilled to see Kroger double down on plant-based foods with the expansion of its Simple Truth Plant-Based collection,” stated Caroline Bushnell, director of corporate engagement for The Good Food Institute. “Kroger is really driving own-brand innovation forward with products like their new Simple Truth Emerge Chick’n. As the nation’s largest grocer, Kroger's commitment to plant-based meat and dairy is a clear signal that plant-based is a mainstream way of eating that is here to stay.”