New data from the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) and The Good Food Institute (GFI) shows that U.S. retail plant-based food sales grew 27 per cent to US$7 billion in 2020.
The growth in plant-based food sales was consistent across the nation, suggests the report, with more than 25 per cent growth in every U.S. census region.
And that growth outstripped the wider retail food market: the plant-based food market grew almost twice as fast as the total U.S. retail food market, which increased 15 per cent in 2020 amid restaurant closures.
57 per cent of households now purchase plant-based food, up from 53 per cent in 2019.
Replacement meat booms in 2020
The biggest surging sub-sector was plant-based meat, which hit US$1.4 billion in sales in 2020, a 45 per cent increase from 2019’s $962 million. That growth was twice as fast as conventional meat and now accounts for 2.7 per cent of retail packaged meat sales. 18 per cent of U.S. households now purchase plant-based meat, up from 14 per cent in 2019.
Consumers are coming back for more, too — 63 per cent of shoppers are high-repeat customers.
Refrigerated plant-based meat sales grew 75 per cent in 2020. That growth was spurred by the increased placement of those products adjacent to conventional meat on shelves. Refrigerated plant-based meat sales increased more than twice as fast as frozen plant-based meat sales, which grew 30 per cent in 2020 — 10 times faster than in 2019.
Plant-based milk makes big gains
Plant-based milk — the largest plant-based category ahead of meat — has reached US$2.5 billion and accounts for 35 per cent of the total plant-based food market. It grew 20 per cent in sales, up from 5 per cent in 2019 and twice as fast as cow’s milk. Plant-based milk is now purchased by 39 per cent of U.S. households.
Almond milk remains the category leader, accounting for around two-thirds of plant-based milk dollar sales, with oat milk in second ahead of soy milk. Sales of oat milk more than trebled in 2020 and have surged 25-fold since 2018.
That success of plant-based milk has laid the groundwork for major increases in sales of other plant-based dairy products, notes the report, which are collectively approaching $2 billion.
In 2020, plant-based yogurt grew 20 per cent, almost seven times the rate of conventional yogurt, and plant-based cheese grew 42 per cent, almost double the rate of conventional cheese. Plant-based eggs grew 168 per cent, almost 10 times the rate of conventional eggs, and more than 700 per cent from 2018, 100 times the rate of conventional eggs.
The report adds that COVID-19 gave retail sales of plant-based foods an extra boost at a time when interest in the sector was already surging. Other factors for consumers include personal health, sustainability, food safety, and animal welfare.
GFI and PBFA commissioned this data from SPINS and custom refined it to reflect only plant-based products that directly replace animal-based products.