In an expansion of its highly successful natural and organic brand, The Kroger Co. is set to launch Simple Truth Plant Based, a line of fresh, meatless burgers and grinds along with a range of other plant-based foods.
Kroger said Simple Truth Plant Based was unveiled Thursday by Gil Phipps, vice president of Kroger Our Brands, at the Good Food Conference in San Francisco, where he was a featured speaker. Plans call for the new products to roll out to stores each month starting this fall and running into 2020.
"Since its launch in January 2013, Simple Truth has become the leading natural and organic brand in the country, with annual sales exceeding $2.3 billion," Phipps said at the conference. "As more of our customers embrace a flexitarian lifestyle, choosing to prioritize healthier food choices and reduce their environmental footprint, we are excited to meet their needs. We are introducing our Simple Truth Plant Based collection to offer even more fresh, remarkably delicious, animal-free food to provide shoppers with a greater selection of choices that are more accessible and affordable."
Simple Truth Plant Based products will sport easy-to-identify packaging, including an icon that will make it easier for customers to find the brand on stores shelves and when shopping on Kroger.com, according to Kroger. Items will include meatless burger patties, meatless grinds, chocolate chip cookie dough, alfredo pasta sauce, bolognese pasta sauce, deli slices (black forest ham and salt-and-pepper turkey), sausages (kielbasa and chorizo), cream cheese, sour cream, french onion dip and queso.
Kroger said its team of chefs, food scientists and nutritionists collaborated to develop the Simple Truth Plant Based recipes, which offer 100% plant-based alternatives.
"Kroger's commitment to innovating and creating new plant-based food mirrors the growing number of customers exploring meat and dairy alternatives," Nicole Davis, senior category strategy and innovation manager for Kroger Our Brands, said in a statement. "Taste is and will always be our No. 1 focus, and you can expect Kroger to continue to invest in this category as we are committed to providing our customers with products that support their eating preferences and health and wellness goals."
In its 2019 food trends outlook, Kroger reported that rising numbers of U.S. consumers — particularly Millennials and women — are following a flexitarian style of eating. The company said studies show that nearly a third of the U.S. population is including more plant-based food into their diet and cutting back on their daily meat and dairy intake.
Besides health and wellness concerns, consumers also are considering animal welfare and environmental impact in turning to plant-based foods. Kroger cited a study published in 2018 by Science finding that plant-based diets can reduce environmental emissions, including greenhouse gases, from food production by more than 70%.
"We are thrilled to see Kroger continue to embrace plant-based foods, particularly plant-based meat in this way," commented Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, which hosted the conference. "It's a defining moment when America's largest grocer launches an entire collection of plant-based meat and dairy products and is clear proof that plant-based has truly gone mainstream. We look forward to other grocers following Kroger's lead."
Overall, Kroger’s Simple Truth portfolio includes more than 1,550 natural and organic products, with new items launching monthly.
"Kroger is at the intersection of plant-based curiosity and culinary innovation,” Phipps added on stage at the conference. “Our customers are really open right now to exploring plant-based alternatives, and we're responding with our new collection.”