Verena Wiederkehr, International Head of Food Industry & Retail at ProVeg, shared some fascinating insights about the plant-based retail scene with the audience at Seeds & Chips ’19.
The world’s leading summit on food innovation, this year’s edition of Seeds & Chips in Milan included more than 10 000 participants, over 300 speakers, and 350 companies.
As part of the conference programme ‘We’ll Always Have Retail: The Continuing Evolution of the Consumer Marketplace’, Verena Wiederkehr showcased the increasing relevance of plant-based foods and beverages in the modern retail sector. Wiederkehr not only presented best-practice retail examples and explained how retailers can capitalise on the growing appetite for plant-based foods, but also provided a glimpse into the future of meat. To see her full talk, click here. According to Wiederkehr, there are three core components required in order to succeed in the market: deliciousness, affordability, and widespread availability. One relatively new brand on the market, Wicked Kitchen, which was created by plant-based chef Derek Sarno in collaboration with British supermarket chain Tesco, seems to tick all the boxes. In just 33 weeks, Tesco sold over 4 million vegan Wicked Kitchen meals.
Other key takeaways from Wiederkehr’s talk include the very evident shift towards a protein aisle rather than a meat aisle. In this way, products are positioned in a store according to their function rather than their core ingredients. We have already observed this practice in the plant-based dairy category, where yoghurts or milk have been sitting next to their animal-based counterparts for quite a while. This has helped the category to grow and is increasingly becoming standard practice for the majority of retailers.
In terms of variety and taste, however, certain categories such as plant-based cheeses and yoghurts still have a long way to go. These categories offer great potential for investors, startups, and established manufacturers alike.
Despite the fact that there is still room for improvement in various categories, sales of British retail giant Sainsbury’s plant-based product line have been increasing on an ongoing basis, while Waitrose expanded their plant-based portfolio by 60% in 2018. Looking at these figures, it comes as no surprise that more and more retailers are jumping on the plant-based bandwagon, a development which can be observed particularly in the UK, where plant-based options are increasingly available, with the number of products increasing on a daily basis.
Due to the success of the Milan-based summit, a second iteration of Seeds & Chips will take place in Melbourne, Australia, in September this year, once again bringing together startups, corporations, policymakers, entrepreneurs, universities, investors, accelerators/incubators, and NGOs to shape the future of food.