Kroger is launching new private-label vegan ground beef and burger patties as it seeks to capitalize on growing consumer demand for plant-based meatless substitutes, the company said Wednesday.
The nation's largest grocery store chain is among many companies creating their own versions of vegan meats that closely mimic the taste of real meat products. Meat producers like Smithfield and Hormel and Big Food companies like Kellogg are trying to jump on the trend sparked by veggie burgers made by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
"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," Joe Grieshaber, Kroger's senior vice president of merchandising, said in a statement.
Meatless products could be a sizeable opportunity for Kroger. UBS estimates that U.S. grocery stores will sell $7.2 billion of meat substitutes by 2025, up from $750 million in 2018, as consumers eat less meat due to health or environmental concerns. It's still a nascent category: While Beyond makes about half of its revenue from grocery store sales, rival Impossible only started selling its products in grocery stores in September.
Kroger first announced its intention to launch plant-based products under its Simple Truth brand in September. Initial products included vegan cookie dough, oat milk and meatless deli slices. The company plans to add 50 more products to its plant-based collection in 2020.
The new meat-free ground beef and burger patties made with pea protein will be a part of Simple Truth Emerge, a plant-based meat extension of its organic Simple Truth line, which grossed more than $2.3 billion in sales in 2019.