From burgers to sausages, plant-based meat options are trending well among military consumers, according to the Defense Commissary Agency’s director of sales.
“Many commissaries have long sold vegetarian and plant-based meat products in keeping with consumer demand,” said Tracie Russ. “However, the demand has grown for more of these options, and so we’ve expanded offerings in our worldwide network of stores.”
New additions to the inventory wearing the “Beyond Meat” product label include burgers, brat-style and Italian sausages, and ground beef. As these items have grown in popularity, many commissaries are cross-merchandising wherever possible to give them more exposure.
Plant-based options in commissaries fall in line with what’s offered in the grocery/retail industry at large, where alternative meats are trending high, especially with Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen. Xers (born 1965-1980), according to a Nov. 1 Progressive Grocer article.
As the popularity of these new products began to soar, DeCA’s sales category management team recognized the trend and added Beyond Meat to the commissary stock assortment, said Darrell Clary, the agency’s category manager for meat and seafood.
“The demand for these products is through the roof,” Clary said. “Whether it’s for health, convenience or taste, our patrons have demonstrated they want plant-based meat. We are definitely looking at expanding our inventory to match what our patrons want.”
Plant-based meat provides patrons an increased ability to meet health, fitness and better lifestyle goals while also tasting similar to their animal protein counterparts, according to DeCA Health and Wellness Program Manager Deborah Harris.
“With an increased focus on the benefit of protein in the diet, plant sources have shown they can help meet those needs as well as offer a different nutritional profile than animal sources,” Harris said. “For example, plant-based protein sources also provide fiber, which most Americans lack in their diets.
“Per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating pattern is one in which nutrient needs are met with a variety of foods from a variety of sources,” she further noted. “It’s exciting to see that the commissary is working diligently to increase offerings to meet the multitude of lifestyle and dietary preferences of our military community while saving our patrons money in the process.”
The dietary and lifestyle attributes of the four Beyond Meat plant-based options sold in commissaries include: certified kosher; vegan; non-GMO verified; soy or gluten free; 20 grams of plant protein per serving; 25 percent less saturated fat than ground beef; and cholesterol-free
Once DeCA’s sales team added the new plant-based meat to its stock assortment, the agency spread the news about the products’ availability to all its commissaries, said Andrea Coyle, store operations perishable team member.
“Every month we are seeing double-digit increases in sales,” Coyle said. “The plant-based products are in very high demand and our stores are excited to be able to offer this stock assortment to their shoppers.”
Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.