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This Supermarket Is Getting Vegan-Only Shelves... Right Next To Meat Department

Responding to market trends that show a sharp climb in vegetarian and vegan foods, Finnish supermarket Kesko’s K-Food stores have added 200 “vege shelves,” or vegetarian-only display cases, to 200 of its locations throughout the country. That’s particularly significant when you consider the whole country is about the size of a state and a half in the US.

Plant-based protein sales are through the roof. 

“Sales of plant-based protein products in K-Food stores have grown strongly in recent years,” said Ari Akseli, Vice President for Commerce in Kesko's grocery trade division, in a prepared statement. “Growth has taken place in a number of product categories, including vegetable protein products, vegan ice cream, non-dairy milks as well as soy and bean products.”   

By the company’s own records, overall sales of plant-based foods soared over the last year at K-Food stores. Here’s how each market sussed out:

  • Non-dairy milks: +47%
  • Non-dairy creams: +63%
  • Non-dairy yogurts: +56%
  • Non-dairy puddings: +26%
  • Tofu: +13%
  • All frozen vegan products (such as soya steaks, falafels, vegetable burgers): +41%
  • Hummus and falafel products: +305%

In fact, the only vegetarian or vegan sector that shrank was vegan ice cream, which dipped by 5 percent. Kesko’s attention to detail—like keeping an eye on the vegan market—has been part of the reason for the store’s success since its creation in 1940.   

Putting vegan options next to meat opens the market wide open. 

K-Food vege shelves are located right next to meat sections of the stores, making them easier to find—and increasing the likelihood of them being bought by people not necessarily seeking vegan or vegetarian products out.   

“Thanks to the vege shelves, a growing number of customers have found plant-based protein products, which further raises their sales,” said Jani Tynkkynen, K-Food’s department manager and brains behind the vege shelf concept, in a press release.

It’s not just Finland, either. 

Of course, the spike in non-meat product sales—and the increase in people eating vegan and vegetarian food—is an international phenomenon. Between 2009 and 2013, for example, the number of global vegetarian food and drink product launches doubled, according to research by market intelligence firm Mintel. From 2015 to 2016, sales of vegan food grew by an insane 1,500 percent in the United Kingdom.

Stateside, there’s a similar spike happening. Veganism in the United States has grown by 500 percent since 2014, according to GlobalData’s “Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017” report released this month.

The trend will only grow. 

To meet the growing demand, looks like supermarkets worldwide will need to start installing vege shelves of their own. Actually, that may already be underway.

Earlier this month, Pret A Manger made the announcement that it would also be installing “veggie fridges” at every single one of its locations in the United Kingdom. 

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