New data show that the U.S. plant-based foods retail market is worth $4.5 billion. It grew five times faster than total U.S. retail food sales over the past year.
GFI and the Plant Based Foods Association commissioned this data from market research firm SPINS. The companies used SPINS “plant-based positioned” product attribute and then drilled down into the data for plant-based foods that directly replace animal products (e.g., meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy) as well as meals that contain animal ingredient replacements.
Plant-based milk continues to set the curve for plant-based food retail sales. The category now makes up 13% of total retail milk sales, growing 6% in the past year - while cow’s milk sales declined 3%, following a decline of 3% the prior year.
Emerging plant-based dairy categories like yogurt, cheese, and ice cream are growing even faster as more households discover these other plant-based dairy options.
Plant-based yogurt grew 39% in the past year compared to conventional yogurt which declined 3%. Plant-based cheese grew 19% as conventional cheese remained flat and plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty grew 27% while conventional ice cream and frozen novelty grew 1%.
The ever-growing interest in plant-based products are now part of the mainstream market, and retailers can capture this momentum by increasing the variety and accessibility of plant-based foods.
The impact of strategic shelf space, for example placing plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy close to conventional animal products, is already evident. Total plant-based meat is now worth $800 million, accounting for 2% of U.S. retail packaged meat sales.
Retailers increasingly shelve plant-based meat in the refrigerator section, alongside conventional animal meat, introducing a wider range of consumers to these products and putting all “centre of plate proteins” in one convenient place. Consequently, refrigerated plant-based meat sales have taken off to the tune of 37% growth over the past year.
“This is just the beginning of a massive growth period for plant-based foods,” said GFI associate director of corporate engagement Caroline Bushnell. “Consumer appetite for plant-based foods is surging as consumers increasingly make the switch to foods that match their changing values and desire for more sustainable options. This growth will continue as more companies bring next-generation innovations to market that really deliver on the most important driver of consumer choice: taste.”