A U.S. grocer that is aiming to become the world's largest marketplace for plant-based foods has now launched in Canada.
Vejii, an online grocer of vegan and plant-based products, debuted a website in Canada this week. Vejii launched its platform in the U.S. in November and has been scaling rapidly, growing both its customer base and an assortment of vegan products. Now it will be selling to an estimated 2.3 million vegetarians and 850,000 vegans in Canada.
"For our Canadian launch, we are beginning by offering a thoughtfully curated selection of plant-based meat, dairy and seafood products, based on our top selling products in the U.S.," said Kory Zelickson, CEO of Vejii. "We are committed to making plant-based food more accessible, while also supporting plant-based food producers, especially small businesses."
Vejii operates a multi-vendor platform and makes it possible for startup brands to list their product on the website, and gain national exposure for their brand. The platform is also an channel for established brands looking to target new customers.
"There are so many innovative plant-based startup brands that we are able to assist by providing national exposure," Zelickson said. "The Vejii platform has been inspired by the innovators and founders that our team has had the privilege of working with. By providing startups with exposure we both help the brand and provide our customers with high-quality, plant-based alternatives that they may not have had access to before."
The platform incorporates machine learning, AI, smart lists, targeted product recommendations, and proprietary technology to provide an enhanced shopping experience to its customers.
Vejii will also be launching a full French version of the site in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and The Good Food Institute (GFI) reported that U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods continued to climb by double digits last year, increasing 27% to $7 billion. This growth was consistent across the country, with more than 25% growth in every U.S. census region.
In fact, the plant-based food market grew nearly twice as fast as the total U.S. retail food market, which increased 15% in 2020 as the pandemic closed down restaurants and consumers stockpiled food while hunkering down at home. Fifty-seven percent of households now buy plant-based foods, up from 53% in 2019. The data, which PBFA and GFI commissioned from wellness-focused data technology company SPINS, was customized to target only plant-based products that directly replace animal-based products.
The value of plant-based meat — the second-largest plant-based category — reached $1.4 billion in 2020, with sales increasing 45%, up from $962 million in 2019. The plant-based meat category grew twice as fast as conventional meat and makes up 2.7% of retail packaged meat sales. Eighteen percent of U.S. households now buy plant-based meat, up from 14% in 2019, with 63% of shoppers classified as high-repeat customers.
“The data tells us unequivocally that we are experiencing a fundamental shift as an ever-growing number of consumers are choosing foods that taste good and boost their health by incorporating plant-based foods into their diet,” noted Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at San Francisco-based PBFA, which represents more than 195 of the United States’ leading plant-based food companies. “As this industry surpasses the $7 billion threshold, PBFA is excited to continue our work to help build a sustainable infrastructure, including domestic ingredients sourcing, for this growing demand to expand access to plant-based foods.”