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A Plant-Based kick in the teeth

Instacart’s new Plant Power report isn’t exactly flattering to the conventional meat buyers of the world.

My inbox is overloaded with keyword news alerts. The amount of “plant based” news that has little to do with fruits and vegetables is astounding – and, frankly, kind of depressing sometimes.

Take the latest two I found this week, from Instacart and Whole Foods BB #:147784.

Instacart’s new Plant Power report tracks plant based meat and dairy purchases by region, demographics, and what else shoppers have in their carts.

I guess it would be no surprise that shoppers who buy only conventional meat (no plant-based replacements) are most likely to buy gravy mix, and those who buy only plant-based meat are 3.2 times more likely to buy kale, and 1.5 times more likely to buy avocados.

But the stats they are pulling are suspiciously unflattering to the non- plant-based eaters, who are more likely to buy:

  • Gravy mix
  • Canned pasta meals
  • Donuts
  • Pastry dough
  • Packaged toaster pastries
  • Juice boxes
  • Cola
  • Chocolate milk
  • Disposable plates

…ouch. What did iceberg do to you, Instacart?

Compare that with the seemingly virtuous list for plant-based alternative buyers:

  • Tofu
  • Kale
  • Kombucha
  • Canned Sardines
  • Avocados
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Dental Floss & Picks
  • Lip Balm
  • Bubble Bath
  • Wet Cat Food

Whole Foods’ inaugural Plant-Based Trend Predictions is no more friendly to produce. In fact, I read it with hackles raised. While I understand the purpose of the press release is to drum up business for plant-based products, they didn’t have to go this far in Trend No. 3, Pint-Sized and Plant-Based.

Gone are the days of pleading with the kids to eat their fruits and veggies. For the littlest of eaters, brands are providing plant-forward options that come in kid-approved forms like nuggets, yogurt tubes and ice pops (did we mention they’re superhero themed?). These products are perfect for sneaking fruits and veggies into their meal and great for on-the-go backyard explorations.


Are we just giving up, Whole Foods? Why not slide right into Soylent Green? If we don’t teach kids healthful eating habits and just give in and feed them everything in extruded nugget form, how will they learn to love fruits and vegetables in the long run? As you can tell, I am not a fan of “sneaking” fruits and vegetables into kids’ diets. I understand the struggle. I’m a parent of both an adventurous eater and a picky eater.

Packaging nugget-based vegetable sneaks as a healthful alternative is just plain wrong.

I feel like I should mention here that I have both pea milk and tofu in my refrigerator right now. I’m not a plant-based hater.

But these reports reinforce the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s BB #:157162 Have a Plant rebranding and positioning.

Produce needs to own plant-based and not let flashy new products eat away at our market share.


Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.