My name is Julie Emmett and I am PBFA’s senior director of retail partnerships.

I am just back from two exciting days at the national headquarters of Kroger in Cincinnati. Kroger is the second largest retailer in the United States and has nearly 3,000 supermarkets nationwide.

Our Executive Director Michele Simon and I attended the company’s VegFest where many PBFA members exhibited. Kroger also hosted us for an in-depth “Lunch and Learn” on the role of plant-based foods in retail for senior staff.

Showcasing PBFA Members at Kroger VegFest

Last year, Kroger held its first VegFest for employees, launching with 8 participating companies in one location. This year, PBFA stepped in to amp things up by putting out the call to our member companies to participate! (Kroger ultimately chose which companies could exhibit.)

Due to the high number of participating companies and employee interest, the VegFest took place across three Kroger locations including 84.51 their analytics arm and the Blue Ash Tech Center.

We had over 30 PBFA members in attendance at VegFest: Lavva, Before the Butcher, Edlong Corporation, Good Planet, Honest Stand, Sweet Earth, Outstanding Foods, It’s Jerky Y’all, Kite Hill, Miyoko’s, Greater Good Foods, Nuttin’ Ordinary, Plant Based Pantry, Milkadamia, Tofurky, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, Vegan Rob’s, Foodies Vegan, World Peas Brand, Good Catch, NadaMoo!, Riot Eats, Let Thy Food, Follow Your Heart, Improved Nature, FullyFed, Upton’s Naturals, Plant Love Nutrition, Beyond Meat, Pivotal Foods, Yellofruit, Ohi, Giorgio Foods, and Jnana Organics.

As you can see, there was an incredible turnout and many brands were given the chance to network with Kroger staff, an invaluable opportunity!

The event was organized by Marcellus Harris, assistant commodity manager of Poultry for Kroger, and Ann Beaty, director of Kroger merchandising consulting at 84.51°, who were both wonderful to work with. After the event, Ann had this to say about PBFA’s participation:

“We appreciate PBFA’s support to help create a successful VegFest event. Thanks to PBFA’s help, Kroger was able to grow the event from 8 companies in one room, to 35 companies in three separate locations. Everyone was thrilled with the food and the turnout, with hundreds of HQ staff to taste and learn about dozens of plant-based foods.”

Our members also reported a very positive experience:

“Having the opportunity to participate in the Kroger VegFest hosted by 84.51 was well worth the trip. There was plenty of time to sample and have meaningful conversations with the attendees. Many of the participants have not had the chance to try our products and to see their face light up with amazement once they realized they were eating a plant- based ice cream is so exciting!”– Greg Johnson, NadaMoo!

PBFA Lunch and Learn for Kroger Team Leaders

After the successful VegFest, Michele and I held an educational “Lunch and Learn” for the Kroger senior staff. Our presentation included data on plant-based foods’ retail marketplace performance, including the potential Kroger dollar opportunity by category. We also shared inspiring examples of merchandising and marketing strategies to expand the presence of plant-based foods in stores. Caroline Bushnell from the Good Food Institute also participated in the presentation, sharing valuable consumer insight data. The three of us made a powerful team!

Marcellus hosted us for the Lunch and Learn and had this to say about its impact:

“I have received a lot of good feedback from the presentation; it’s clear the attendees got a lot out of it and more importantly it is elevating the conversation.”

We will soon have even more exciting news to share about our ongoing partnership with Kroger as we continue to work hard on behalf of our members to build on our relationship with Kroger.

Huge thanks to all of our wonderful members who participated in the VegFest and if your brand was not selected this time around, the event is likely to grow next year!