‘There’s no way the space supports 20 manufacturers making plant-based burger patties’

“But if you take a step back, those spaces are highly commoditized spaces that are dominated by private label brands,” ​Nolan told FoodNavigator-USA, following the release of IRI data​ showing double-digit declines in sales in refrigerated meat alternatives vs modest rises in dollar sales in frozen products.

If you have slow-turning products in a place that’s fairly perishable, that’s high risk, and there’s no way the space supports 20 manufacturers making burger patties.”

In the frozen aisle, by contrast, “products are almost exclusively branded,” ​said Nolan, who said there was a solid rationale behind putting meat alternatives in the fresh meat case, with early data suggesting this could unlock an incremental growth opportunity, but that the recent weakening performance had prompted some discussion about store placement.  

And while things may change, right now at least, frozen is more affordable than eating out, and represents better value than fresh, he added.

Frozen products are not going to be thrown away, you don’t have a ton of preservatives, and for us, it’s a place we feel we can deliver value.”

Gardein retail sales +13.3% to $154m versus a year ago, 52 weeks to August 7, 2022

Unit sales of Gardein​ products – which are in the frozen case at retail – are flat, but its retail sales* were up 13.3% to $154m versus a year ago in the 52 weeks to August 7, while the brand has gained market share through the acquisition of new buyers and increased repeat rates among existing consumers, said Nolan.

As for pricing, meanwhile, “The frozen value has always been better than the other solutions, and our elasticity is lower than our competitors,” ​he claimed, noting that younger consumers are also “increasing their repeat rates at a higher level than our total buyer base.”

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