Phil Lempert on the Changing Food Shelves of CVS

Phil Lempert is a television and radio news reporter, newspaper columnist, author, consumerologist, and food marketing expert. For more than 25 years, Lempert, an expert analyst on consumer behavior, marketing trends, new products, and the changing retail landscape, has identified and explained impending trends to consumers and some of the most prestigious companies worldwide. Known as The Supermarket Guru®, Lempert is a distinguished author and speaker who alerts customers and business leaders to impending corporate and consumer trends, and empowers them to make educated purchasing and marketing decisions.

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TRANSCRIPT:smg

When most people think of buying foods at a drug chain it’s typically about the milk (where prices are usually lower than those in the supermarket) or snacks, candies and a limited variety of frozen foods. It’s all been about impulse sales and convenience. But that’s changing as both CVS and Walgreen’s started building their new stores with about 50% of the area devoted to foods–including healthier offerings. Just last week CVS and Beyond Meat announced a partnership that would bring the meat-alternative burgers and meatballs to 7000 stores nationwide. Great PR, and I’ll get back to that shortly.

CVS announced they will also add 60 new "better for you" snacks and 50 new frozen foods that are vegan, organic, gluten-free, plant based, and zero-sugar-added. "CVS is ubiquitous in neighborhoods and communities across America, and Beyond Meat is proud to partner with them as our first pharmacy partner to bring increased choice and access to nutritious food options to their consumers," a Beyond Meat spokesperson told Insider. "The addition of the Beyond Burger and Beyond Meatballs at CVS aligns with CVS' larger effort to help its millions of customers make healthier choices." The question is whether the CVS shopper will want to buy Beyond Meat in their stores – or come to think of it – even buy any meats or meat alternatives there? It’s true that CVS – dollar wise – sells more groceries than does Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods – but that is strictly based on dollar sales – not the types of foods. One reason is that the over 10,000 CVS (and Walgreen’s over 9000) stores are often in areas that are underserved by supermarkets and these shoppers have limited access to stores that sell groceries.

For Beyond Meat, who’s chairman Seth Goldman is a friend and Founder and CEO Ethan Brown I’ve met and admire, the deal is a coup. Foodservice sales through restaurants that sell Beyond Meat, including Carl's Jr. and BurgerFi, dropped 31% year-over-year in 2020, according to Brown on a recent earnings call and during the pandemic their retail sales increased 108% he added. But the real question is whether the CVS shopper even knows what the Beyond Burger is yet alone want to buy it. And for CVS, I’m sure they hope that offering Beyond Burgers will attract new customers who may not be going to CVS for much beyond their prescriptions. This is One interesting move to watch.

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