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As the New Year begins, so begins our personal quests to improve ourselves. Quit smoking, participate in Dry January, start working out, lose weight and eat healthier.
As consumers look to make healthier eating choices, many are looking into eating less meat and more vegetables. This brings a big opportunity for the newer type of “hybrid” vegetable products—products that include processed vegetables in place of other ingredients that they have traditionally not contained—like exchanging chickpeas for flour in dried pasta, for example.
Hybrid vegetable products first entered the Dutch market in 2016, and they’re increasingly visible on store shelves. Pizzas, pastas and rice are modified—enriching their ingredient content (which may not be as “good” for you, like white flour and white rice) with vegetables and legumes—creating a product that contains a percentage of vegetables, but still is the original product as its basis. These hybrid products differ from pure vegetable products and innovations, like cauliflower rice, courgette spaghetti and vegetable chips, which are made primarily of that vegetable. The new model of hybrid vegetable products perfectly match the need for healthier food, the desire to eat what you have in the past, and the demand for convenience.
Performance at the till
But how are these products performing at the till? In 2017, the sales of hybrid vegetable products were approximately EUR 5.3 million.1 In 2019,2 sales hit almost 22.8 million—a 330% increase in sales now accounting for 0.07% of the total retailer turnover.3 These sales figures are comparable with the sales of long-life soy drinks (EUR 20 million) and bleach (EUR 22.4 million), though the share of sales of hybrid vegetable products vary greatly within their category. Some claim only 0.01% share of sales within their category—with others claiming as high as 98.8%.
Hybrid Vegetable Products: A Premium Opportunity
The huge increase in revenue isn’t just due to new entries on the market and increased volume sales. It’s also due to the fact that hybrid vegetable products are priced at a premium compared to regular products in the category. Legume-based rice (rice based on chickpeas, peas and lentils), for example, is generally priced four and a half times higher than the average kilo price within the regular rice category. Fresh and chilled bread and vegetable-based snacks are priced three times higher than their “normal” counterpart.
How to grow in the hybrid veg category
There are currently only a handful of manufacturers and retailers taking advantage of the hybrid vegetable product opportunity. As we start 2020, there is plenty of room for manufacturers and retailers to innovate and become market leaders of these trends.
Here are some key steps manufacturers and retailers should follow to start growing in hybrid vegetable products:
- Understand the latest trends in fresh. Find out which products, product combinations and packaging are generating the most sales, and at which retailers to help inform your strategy.
- Know your competitive environment and where there are white spaces. For manufacturers, this means two things: 1) there might be new players not traditionally in your market, entering your market and competing for your territory and 2) you may have new opportunities to grow incremental revenue in adjacent categories.
- After understanding what the potential risks hybrid vegetable products pose to your (traditional) category, find the best way to respond. Make sure you have the right partners to help advise you on competitive risk and opportunities.
- Ensure your new innovation’s success by choosing the optimal combination of factors like product name, ingredients, benefits, and packaging. These strategies shouldn’t be guesswork — it’s a science with definitive predictors.
- Know your price elasticity and price point. While hybrid vegetable products may be priced at a premium, setting the right price can be the difference between success and failure of a new product innovation. Set the right price for your new products by understanding your (promotional) price elasticity, psychological thresholds, and predict the volumetric impact of a price change.
- Know your consumers. What are shoppers saying they’ll do, versus what they’re actually doing at the shelf? Compare your shopper claims to their actions, so you know if your innovation will truly sell.
For more information on the hybrid vegetable product market, please contact us.
1 Based on MAT wk 48 17
2 Based on MAT wk 48 19
3 Universe includes Food + FoodEcom, MAT wk 48 19
This analysis is based on a snapshot of eight categories to illustrate the growth of the market.