The evolution of plant-based


By Andy Nelson, Supermarket Perimeter



It’s been many years since plant-based began to transform US retail grocery meat cases, but the category continues to evolve in new and interesting ways that promise even more growth.


“Consumers are more knowledgeable than they were a couple of years ago, and there are more exciting options available,” said Danny O’Malley, president of Huntington Beach, Cal.-based Before the Butcher. “It continues to grow and change, and I think the opportunities for plant-based will continue to explode as long as we continue to innovate. In a year or two there will be a lot of exciting things that are going to happen which will elevate it even more.”


In 2021, perhaps the most dominant trend within the plant-based category is new plant-based chicken innovations, O’Malley said.


That will be in true next year, too, and Before the Butcher will meet the surging demand with a new extra-large chicken chunk product that, when shredded, is very similar to a shredded chicken breast. The company hopes to launch it in early 2022. That will join the chicken burger Before the Butcher released, along with other burgers, about two years ago.


Also on trend are ground products, which Before the Butcher has stayed on top of with the introduction of plant-based grounds in what O’Malley calls a “brick” form. The new lineup comes in five flavors, including value-added offerings like Chorizo, Italian and Breakfast.


“The really great thing about them is they’re so versatile,” he said. “You can use them in so many different ways ... 


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