The Simple Root's creamy plant-based dips, cream cheese and artisan cheese-style products can easily replace cheese-based components on charcuterie boards.
While nothing would seem more animal protein friendly than charcuterie, an increasing number of plant-based brands are seeing the trend for this type of offering as an opportunity to appeal to vegetarian, vegan and even flexitarian consumers
“We have definitely been seeing more charcuterie boards offering more plant-based options,” affirmed Kimberlie Le, founder of Berkeley, Calif.-based Prime Roots, which offers meat products made from koji, a Japanese fungus. “We’ve seen a huge interest in our salami, pepperoni, ham and patés for charcuterie boards. Not only do these options provide an alternative for plant-based eaters, it’s also something new and exciting for meat eaters to try as well.”
“At The Simple Root, we’ve heard repeatedly from consumers and retailers that people want easy plant-based ‘swap-ins’ for traditional foods,” noted Leslie Maclin, chief marketing office of the London-based company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Denver. “Our creamy plant-based dips, cream cheese and artisan cheese-style products easily replace cheese-based components on charcuterie boards. They give everyone a seat at the table, whether they’re eating plant-based to reduce meat and dairy consumption, avoiding key allergens, or seeking simple ingredient lines and planet-friendly foods.”
In regard to retail strategies for promoting charcuterie, Le responded: “We always like to see individual/smaller assembled boards for easy entertaining so that you can spread them out, allowing them to be more accessible to all your guests. Additionally, when sold in these smaller formats, consumers are able to grab them for themselves. Who says that charcuterie boards are just for entertaining? It’s a perfect Tuesday night dinner for us.”
She added that Prime Roots has “seen our retailers and partners display [our] koji meats just as they would regular meat and charcuterie products, the only difference being the Prime Roots products are branded and marked as being plant-based. We find that consumers love the options and especially having a charcuterie and deli option that is healthier without preservatives and that tastes delicious.”
“Retailers can help shoppers make sure everyone at their table has an option when entertaining by offering plant-based charcuterie ingredient options,” suggested Maclin. She went on to advise grocers to offer a curated selection of vegan and plant-based options; use such merchandising tactics as displaying a colorful display tray, offering samples and sharing an ingredient checklist; provide demonstrations and sampling to allow consumers to taste plant-based products and see how easy it is to assemble their own trays; add plant-based charcuterie and cheese trays to prepared food catering menus as a convenient option for consumers; and run promotions during key entertaining seasons and events to capture key volume occasion opportunities.
When it comes to placement, Maclin were in agreement that their products shouldn’t be relegated to their own section. “Ideally, plant-based offerings should be merchandised together or cross-merchandised for shopper convenience in areas where their mainstream counterparts are located, such as deli, specialty cheeses, produce and fresh prepared foods,” said Maclin. “Consumers have told The Simple Root that they increasingly expect plant-based foods to be a ‘variety choice’ when shopping their favorite areas (fresh dips and deli).”
For her part, Le was more succinct, but equally eloquent: “We hope that plant-based alternatives are able to live next to other sustainable charcuterie options.”
As for what the future holds for plant-based charcuterie items, Maclin believes that it’s all about mouthfeel. “Texture is so very important to consumers,” she noted. “I predict we’ll see more better-for-you products with extreme c-r-u-n-c-h to complement plant-based cheeses, like more dried and seasoned real vegetables, and interesting new crackers made from fruit, vegetables, seeds, specialty grains and legumes like lentils.”