LAKELAND – Publix has gone greener in both its product offerings and its latest new store as the grocer has expanded its meatless food offerings and opened a new GreenWise store.
The new product is the supermarket’s first pea-based chickenless tenders and the new store is within the green-certified Water Street District in downtown Tampa.
The new product was in response to increased customer demand for plant-based protein products, according to a Publix press release.
“By developing these meatless products under our trusted private-label GreenWise brand, we are offering our customers high-quality options to support their lifestyle,” said Maria Brous, Publix director of communications.
The new GreenWise Chickenless Tenders arrived at Publix stores during the second week of August. A GreenWise Meatless Burger was released in April.
The products were described as offering the texture and taste of meat while providing 11 and 19 grams of plant-based protein respectively. The new food items are dairy-, soy- and gluten-free to address any food sensitivities of its customers. Other similar GreenWise brands include a traditional black bean burger and a veggie burger.
The new Publix products could help the retailer capitalize on recent double-digit growth in the meatless foods market. The Supermarket News reported, “In 2020, growth in the U.S. plant-based food market more than doubled, with sales climbing 27% to $7 billion,” according to a Plant Based Foods Association study. “Plant-based food sales also increased nearly twice as much as overall U.S. retail food sales, which climbed 15%.”
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Plant-based meat was one of two billion-dollar plant-based food categories (the other being plant-based milk) with over $1 billion in sales in 2020, reported Supermarket News. PBFA said plant-based meat garnered sales of $1.4 billion last year, representing 20% of the total plant-based food market.
In addition, plant-based meat saw the largest category growth in 2020, with sales up 45% from $962 million in 2019. What’s more, plant-based meat sales growth doubled that of conventional meat and now accounts for 2.7% of all retail packaged meat sales.
A writer at VegNews.com noted, the new GreenWise products were coming at time when supply chain issues are affecting retailers. “Publix is entering the vegan chicken space at an opportune moment, when traditional chicken shortages are on the rise and customers are seeking alternatives to animal-derived meat,” wrote Anna Starostinetskaya.
Publix is following the footsteps of the country’s largest food retailer, Kroger, which announced in October it would offer more than 75 plant-based foods and beverages by the end of 2020 under its Simple Truth brand. Target offers 30 products under its Good & Gather Plant Based label.
In addition to expanding its meatless offerings, Publix offers sustainability conscious shoppers jackfruit, a popular substitute for shredded pork or chicken at select stores.
The grocer has several ongoing sustainable seafood initiatives such as working with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership to evaluate fish stock and fisheries’ impact on the broader environment and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative to verify credibility in seafood certifications.
Publix participates in the Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP) to help customers make informed decisions about their seafood. Publix stores also offer more sustainable leafy greens by partnering with local hydroponic growers.
In addition to its GreenWise food products, the grocer’s 26,000-square-foot GreenWise store in Tampa resides in a neighborhood with multiple sustainable design and construction certifications.
The surrounding neighborhood near the Amalie Arena, and home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, boasts of pedestrian friendly sidewalks and roof-top gardens with shade trees and swimming pools on its multi-story, mixed-use buildings tops.
The Water Street District is WELL certified and LEED Neighborhood certified, which means buildings there have more planet friendly interiors and exteriors.
The redeveloped neighborhood has an urban garden for growing vegetables and other green space. For tenants such as GreenWise, there is a district-wise heating and cooling system to provide more energy efficient retail space and to reduce the business’ overall carbon footprint.
The chilled water from the cooling system provides improved energy efficiency and better stability for the air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. This will be the second time Publix has connected to a district cooling system for air-conditioning needs but the first time for refrigeration.
Similar to the WELL green building rating system, the LEED program was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and the rating system is like an overlay to the existing building code. The team designing and constructing the buildings seek the designation, which use a scorecard-like checklist measuring a building’s energy efficiency and installation of green products, among other sustainable attributes. The more points the building’s design and construction gains then the higher the certification level, which comes in silver, gold and platinum levels.
On interior build outs including retail space, the owner and architect often select products that do not off-gas chemicals of concern for human health for walls, ceilings, floors and cabinets, and install LED lighting.
A check of the LEED certified retailers included a single result, the Publix GreenWise Market in Palm Beach Gardens. Whole Foods was listed within the USGBC’s database with 10 stores gaining the third-party verified certification.
The new GreenWise is the second of the company’s new-concept specialty, natural and organic stores to be located in a high-rise, multiuse building. Above the store are two towers of apartment living and a parking garage.
The GreenWise store includes locally curated items and experience zones. For grab & go options, customers visit POURS and EATS. Gourmet cheese, olives, cured meats and wine pairings from around the globe can be found in FINDS. More options to cook at home can be found in CUTS and PRODUCE, with personal care items in CARES.
According to a Publix press release, the Publix GreenWise Market features a mural by local artist Leon Bedore, also known as Tes One. The mural reflects the vibrant vibe of downtown Tampa through its vivid colors and modern shapes.
The first new-concept Publix GreenWise Market is located in Tallahassee, Florida. Nine stores are now open, including the Tampa location. A 10th is planned for St. Augustine, Florida.
Regarding the new store, Publix President Kevin Murphy said, “So many exciting things are happening in downtown Tampa, and we are pleased to be part of that.” He added, “Our curated mix of high-quality specialty make-at-home and grab & go items will add a level of convenience for residents and visitors looking for easy meal solutions as they enjoy the events and activities available in the surrounding area.”
Paul Nutcher covers business and industry for The Ledger. He can be reached at [email protected]