CONVENIENCE retailer SPAR has announced an innovative new plant-based alternative fresh food offering as it aims to meet the growing demand for this category.
The new offering will be anchored by SPAR’s signature plant-based fillet, which is a first for the Irish market and will provide a meat free alternative to the traditional deli favourite, the chicken fillet roll.
The new fillet, which SPAR expects to quickly become a customer favourite, contains plant-based ingredients only, with participating stores offering all the trimmings you would expect of the famous Chicken Roll such as plant-based spreads, cheese, coleslaw or lettuce. Initially, the SPAR plant-based fillet will launch in stores on university campuses before rolling out to other SPAR stores.
The move to introduce meat free alternatives follows a continued shift in dietary patterns among consumers, with up to 34% of the population purchasing meat free alternatives at least weekly, according to research published by Bord Bia – an increase of 8% since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the same research, in the 12 weeks up to June 2020 during the pandemic, there was a 109% increase year-on-year in sales of ambient meat substitutes, while sales of fresh meat substitutes increased by 60%.
Sales figures show that the ever-popular chicken fillet equates to approximately 2.5 Million individual rolls sold per year in over 400 SPAR stores nationwide. SPAR is now targeting sales of approximately 120,000 rolls for the plant-based fillet over the next 12 months.
Commenting on the launch of the new offering, John Moane, Chief Commercial Officer, BWG Foods, owners and operators of the SPAR brand in Ireland said: “The plant-based meat-free market is on a very strong upward trajectory, primarily driven by younger generations who are increasingly more health and sustainability focussed. Thankfully, innovation has now caught up with consumer demand meaning we can provide delicious and visually appealing offerings that compare very favourably in terms of texture and taste against traditional meat-based products.”
Commenting on whether SPAR expects the new plant-based Fillet to impact on sales of the traditional and hugely popular chicken fillet roll, originally pioneered by SPAR in the 1990s, John Moane added: “SPAR is very focussed on providing Ireland’s most inclusive shopping experience that caters for all tastes and preferences.
“We know there’ll always be a special place for the classic SPAR chicken fillet roll in the heart of Irish people, and we don’t expect this to change any time soon, however, we do envisage this evolution of our offering drawing in a new cohort of customers that otherwise might not have shopped with SPAR.”
SPAR has exciting plans to continue expanding its portfolio of unique meat alternative products in the fresh food category as it positions itself as the market-leading retailer of plant-based solutions in the convenience and foodservice segments.