One component to help you stick with your plant-based eating is the availability of local options. You want—no, you need—to be able to go to your grocery store, and easily find a solid selection of plant-based eats. While plant-based packaged goods were once confined to small co-ops or local mom and pop shops, now, major retailers are packing some serious vegan-food heat. And, some at the top of the list might surprise you.

The Good Food Institute (GFI) just released its inaugural Good Food Retail Report which reveals how the top 15 US retailers fare when it comes to plant-based offerings. Retailers were ranked and graded on product assortment; merchandising; and marketing of plant-based meat, eggs and dairy.

So who came out on top? Perhaps it’s no surprise that Whole Foods was at the top of the chart receiving stellar markets across all categories. Whole Foods had the best overall plant-based assortments of the top retailers, with 360 products offered on shelves; ample store-brand collections; and a wide variety of plant-protein products in prepared food settings offering 50 percent more plant-based options than most other top retailers. You might be surprised though to find that Ralph’s ranked third. As one of the largest supermarket operators in California, perhaps this is further evidence that vegan foods are in fact going mainstream.

Good Food Institute
Good Food Institute

Some other insights reveal that plant-based products are now more plentiful than ever, easier to find, and gaining prominence with signage and placement in grocery stores. Here are some other top level findings from the GFI report:

Dear meat, meet your plant-based neighbor: Ninety-one percent of top retailers shelve plant-based products alongside their conventional counterparts in at least two categories; 65 percent offer at least one plant-based meat product in the meat aisle

Plant-based outgrows vegan: Sixty-five percent of top retailers used “plant-based” or similar plant-forward terms in place of “vegan” or “vegetarian” in marketing and promotions to appeal to a wider audience.

All signs point to plant-based: Fifty-seven percent of top retailers feature aisle signage for plant-based refrigerated or frozen meat products.

Plant-based meats are Queen: More than 80 percent of top retailers offer at least 10 different refrigerated plant-based meat products.

Plant-based milks are King: Top retailers as a whole excel at providing plant-based milk products, boasting on average 70–90 plant-based milk products.

“Plant-based foods are a growth engine in retail, with sales growing more than five times faster than total food sales,” GFI says in its report summary. “Covid-19 lockdowns have resulted in a huge surge in demand for plant-based foods. Some top retailers are doubling down on their own plant-based product lines in 2020 as mainstream consumer demand continues to increase. Kroger will launch at least four new plant-based product types in the second and third quarters, and Target aims to more than double their store-brand plant-based assortment in 2020.”

Analysts predict that the plant-based market will grow 28 percent per year reaching $85 billion by 2030. Plant-based is beyond a food trend, it’s an evolution of food as we know it. The Good Food Retail Report reminds us that plant-based is in full swing at the country’s largest grocery chains. While mainstay players like Whole Foods and the other highly-ranked retailers are proving their commitment to the veg-food space, it’s time now for others to step up.

“More and more meat-eaters are turning to plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products for reasons spanning taste, health, and convenience,” Emma Ignaszewski, corporate engagement strategist at GFI told The Beet. “Merchandising plant-based foods alongside their conventional counterparts and highlighting them with ‘plant-based’ signage and shelf tags is the next step in ensuring they will be discovered and enjoyed by the largest segment of consumers.”

GFI Executive Director Bruce Friedrich stressed the need for grocery stores to cater to the growing consumer demand and sent a note of caution to business. “Top US retailers are ensuring that all Americans have access to delicious and affordable plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy,” says Friedrich. “We are reaching a clear tipping point, and no retailer wants to lose out to competitors with better plant-based strategies.”

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