Vegan section? Frozen food aisle? A consensus has yet to emerge.

By Tim Nelson
June 10, 2019
Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat is having a big year. Their initial public offering was one of the most successful stock launches in some time, and good news in their first quarterly earnings report has pushed their stock price and valuation even higher. But while the company is well on its way to earning blue chip status on Wall Street, grocers stocking the convincing meat alternative are grappling with a vexing question: where the heck are we supposed to put it?

According to reporting by Reuters, there’s no real consensus among grocers about where Beyond belongs. At the 150 Natural Grocers locations across 19 states, Beyond Meat can be found in a refrigerated space alongside more “traditional” meat alternatives like tofu. Another grocery chain spanning metro areas of the Northeast puts Beyond in both the dairy and meat sections. And Fresh Market thinks the plant-based patties belong with other veggie burgers in the freezer sections of its 160 stores.

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Naturally, each grocery chain is convinced their decision is the right one. “Sales in both [dairy and meat] spaces have been great and customers generally view this as a new food category,” says KB US Holdings’ Chief Merchandising Officer Stephen Corradini. Meanwhile, Fresh Market’s grocery director Dwight Richmond told Reuters that “the freezer section is our initial go-to destination as our guests otherwise wouldn’t intuitively know where to find the product.”

The matter may seem trivial (or at most a minor inconvenience) to most shoppers, but it’s of great importance to Beyond. Their website urges consumers to “find it in the meat aisle,” and the company has asserted in regulatory filings that their product’s presence in places where meat eaters might be convinced to give it a shot is essential to delivering on the company’s 400% increase in valuation (up to $6 billion from $1.5 billion) since their May 2nd IPO.

Though Beyond asks that the stores carrying its product place it among the meats, Reuters says there’s no contractual obligation requiring grocers to do so. With space in that highly perishable section of grocery stores at a premium, there’s also been some pushback from groups like the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. Lia Biondo, the USCA’s director of policy and outreach, claims that Beyond and its plant-based cohorts are “riding on the coattails of the beef industry, which has spent decades building up a healthy brand consumers trust.”

Regardless, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of industry-wide consensus yet about where to put Beyond’s meat. And with Impossible and Nestle set to expand their plant-based presence in stores, these types of meat substitutes will only demand a greater share of space in the near future. For now, though, don’t be surprised if you have to take a full lap through your local supermarket to figure out where they’ve put those Beyond burgers.

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