Whole Foods Bets Big on Plant-Based Seafood and Vegan Artisan Cheese
Whole Foods Market is looking to become even more of a haven for vegans and plant-based eaters. The retailer published its first plant-based trend report following the surging demand for plant-based products in its stores nationwide, announcing that future sales will be defined by plant-based seafood, barbecue jackfruit, and artisan vegan cheese. The report came after The Hartman Group found that 48 percent of consumers search for plant-based products when they go to the store. Whole Foods took this data and decided to expand on this consumer behavior, looking towards the Trends Council to conduct an inclusive study on plant-based shoppers.
“Plant-based is the grocery category to watch right now as brands continue to innovate by using new ingredients and processes that make plant-based products exciting for shoppers,” Senior Global Category Merchant for Plant-Based at Whole Foods Parker Brody said. “And in laid-back days of summer, we find that customers are breaking out of their routines and are more open to trying something new, whether they’re longtime vegans or just starting to experiment with plant-based eating. So, expect to see gourmet plant-based cheese alternative spreads at picnics and fish alternatives made from banana blossoms on the grill this season.”
Whole Foods’ report shows that five product types will dominate the plant-based market in the coming month including plant-based seafood, gourmet cheese, vegan barbecue, plant-based children’s food, and dairy-free dips.
Plant-based seafood is recently drawing the spotlight from the alternative protein market. Whole Foods claims that vegan alternatives for tuna and scallops will begin to become more accessible. Brands like Good Catch have popularized plant-based seafood, distributing the substitute at stores nationwide. Upton’s Natural also released a plant-based alternative to seafood that uses banana blossom – a southeast Asian flower that mirrors the flaky, fish texture. Plant-based seafood alternatives now range from fish sticks, canned tuna, shrimp substitutes, and scallops, spotlighting the potential for this rapidly growing industry.
The grocery chain also predicted that gourmet cheese will experience a similar surge in the plant-based market. Many plant-based cheeses have been developed using similar cheesemaking practices as conventional cheese. Whole Foods now stocks cheeses from companies such as Miyoko’s Creamery, Treeline, and Kite Hill.
Vegan barbecue at Whole Foods already features the classics including sausages, hot dogs, pulled jackfruit, and more. The rising demand for vegan barbecue may coincide with the upcoming summer, but plant-based barbecue options will continue to become more accessible to all shoppers. For the cookouts, it will be essential to bring dips and sauces. Whole Foods’ report stated that vegan spreads and dips would see a spike in the upcoming years. The grocery chain stocks its shelves with French onion dip, ranch, and queso alternatives, but plans to release several more options for a well-rounded dipping spread.
The Whole Foods report showcases the changing consumer behavior centered around plant-based foods. Across the US, shoppers have increasingly started shopping and looking for vegan alternatives to conventional, animal-based products. The first-ever plant-based report from the grocery chain highlights the company’s attention towards the shifting consumer trends at Whole Foods and more.