With every new grocery trend comes a necessary round of conversations:
“Who will our distributors be?”
“How are we going to market this product category?”
“Where should it be merchandised in our stores?”
There’s one question that is usually left out of these conversations, but could have the largest impact on your bottom line:
“How will this new product category affect our expired loss?”
Through our conversations with grocers, we’ve seen this question missed time and again, and, as your resident expiration date management experts, it’s our job to make you consider every aspect of your inventory’s expiration potential.
The latest category to fall prey to this oversight is plant-based products. Since they joined the mainstream food scene, they’ve exploded, entering nearly every category from the meat counter to the dairy aisle. Grocers like you are jumping at the chance to stock these products – they’ve seen the data, and they know carrying plant-based products will help their bottom line.
Just to give you a taste of the trend: “Sales were up 31.3% overall between 2017 and 2019, to a grand total of nearly $4.5 billion in revenue,” according to the Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association.
However, like every new product category, plant-based products will have some effect on your expired loss metrics – both positive and negative.
How plant-based products affect expired loss
First, the good news: plant-based foods simply don’t pose as much of a risk to shoppers past their expiration date because they are not made from animal products. For this reason, they have longer shelf lives in your store.
Now, here’s where it gets complicated. Longer shelf life does not necessarily mean you’ll have better expired loss stats.
With any new category, including plant-based products, you’re still establishing a customer base. Even though sales are rising, and plant-based products are quickly becoming a must-have for grocers, there is still education that needs to take place to get shoppers on board.
If the products that you stock don’t move as quickly as you’d anticipated, and you aren’t keeping track of your expiration dates proactively, you may end up with expired plant-based products on your shelves. And your expired loss numbers will go up, up, up…
Tips to mitigate risk of expired loss
There are a few key best practices to avoid this issue with any new category:
- Carefully track your plant-based product movement metrics in order to make accurate inventory purchases in the future. Start small, and gauge your shoppers’ interest in the category before wasting funds on large orders that may expire before they can be purchased.
- Educate your customers on food safety practices for plant-based products. What does a plant-based product smell like, look like, taste like if it’s out of date? Storing plant-based products effectively is another topic that you may want to cover.
- Proactively track your expiration dates so that you can mark down close dated items before they expire and help move them. There are many forms of expiration date management, but a technology-focused process that notifies you when an item in your inventory is about to expire is the best way to avoid not only a shopper coming into contact with an expired item, but an increase in your store’s expired loss.