The 20-week study is a partnership with the Plant Based Foods Association.
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Despite the surge in popularity and hype surrounding plant-based meat alternatives, finding these items in the grocery store isn't always easy. Are they next to real meat? Are they lumped together with other vegetarian choices? Are they scattered about almost on a whim? Different stores tend to have different policies and systems. But Kroger, at least, will be trialing a straightforward one: a dedicated plant-based meat section created in partnership with the trade group the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA).

The 20-week long test will set up three-foot large plant-based meat sections within the meat department at 60 Kroger stores across Denver and parts of Indiana and Illinois. These locations were specifically chosen to reach a "broad and diverse" group of customers, according to the PBFA, so data can be collected to determine how this new system affects sales.

"Plant-based meat sales have been increasing dramatically year over year, even while most of them are placed where only the most dedicated consumers are likely to find and purchase them," explained Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships for the PBFA. "We are confident that this test will demonstrate that plant-based meat sales will increase even more when consumers have easier access to them. We applaud Kroger for taking the lead on plant-based meat merchandising, and we are confident that the outcome will be a win for retailers, suppliers, and especially for consumers."

Of course, Kroger has plenty to gain from this research as well. Earlier this week, Kroger announced its own Simple Truth Plant Based line of products which includes items like "fresh meatless burger patties and grinds." Needless to say, America's largest grocery chain would probably be happy to learn how they can move more of those items off shelves. "The test, which emerged from our partnership with PBFA, will allow us to unearth rich insight regarding how to best merchandise the category and connect with consumers," Marcellus Harris, assistant commodity manager in the meat department for Kroger, added.

That said, the PBFA seemed to say that whatever comes of this 20-week test won't only be for Kroger's eyes. "All retailers and the entire plant-based foods industry will benefit by having clear, consistent, and accurate research results to guide merchandising and marketing decisions," the trade group wrote in the announcement. Yes, for now at least, the larger mission of the plant-based movement means that everyone is willing to play nice with each other for the good of the planet.