USA – American retail chain Kroger is expanding its Home Chef brand into the plant-based category through a new partnership with Impossible Foods.
The partnership also involves Denver-based Custom Made Meals, which manufactures entrees and appetizers for the Home Chef brand.
According to a statement from the company, the partnership will see the three entities work together to develop plant-based protein products.
The American retailer however did provide details about the scope of the collaboration or the timing of the launch.
The new partnership comes at a time when plant-based meat has hit a sales slump in the United States.
According to recent data from market watcher SPINS, sales in the overall plant-based meat market dropped 1.8% year over year for the four-week period ending October 3rd, 2021.
This follows an even bigger drop in the category earlier in 2021 starting around April when the plant-based category dropped over 15% year over year.
Despite the drop in sales, Kroger’s chief merchandising and marketing officer Stuart W. Aitken noted that the company was committed “to expand this brand across our family of companies.”
“Our assortment is connecting with the customer through ready-to-eat meals, rotating seasonal programs, new appetizers, as well as our first plant-based protein in partnership with Custom Made Meals and Impossible [Foods].”
The announcement has sent shockwaves across the plant-based market with analysts regarding the move as a threat to Impossible Foods’ rival Beyond Meat.
In a note to clients penned Friday, Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow argued that the deal represented a “threat” to Beyond Meat, which recently reported a sharp drop in margins.
“We view this test as a threat to Beyond Meat, because it demonstrates the willingness of a big competitor to ‘margin down’ into co-branded private label products in order to maximize the reach of its products,” added Moskow.
Kroger acquired Home Chef in 2018 for US$200m and has since grown it to a US$1 billion brand, according to Aitken.
The brand features more than 500 products across a variety of categories, including meal kits, heat-and-eat meals, ready-to-eat products, and seasonal meals, among others.
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