More double-digit growth for vegan foods

Gina Acosta
Managing Editor
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Sales of plant-based foods had more double-digit growth over the past year as food retailers bolstered their assortments with nut milks, pea burgers and meatless meatballs.

According to new data from the Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11% in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $4.5 billion.

“Plant-based foods are a growth engine, significantly outpacing overall grocery sales,” said PBFA Senior Director of Retail Partnerships Julie Emmett. “We are now at the tipping point with the rapid expansion of plant-based foods across the entire store, so it is critical for retailers to continue to respond to this demand by offering more variety and maximizing shelf space to further grow total store sales.”

According to the new data, the leading drivers of plant-based sales continue to be plant-based milks; plant-based dairy such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream; and plant-based meats. Across the store, plant-based food sales are growing rapidly, while sales of many conventional animal products stagnate or decline. Sales of plant-based milks have grown 6% over the past year, now making up 13% of the entire milk category. Meanwhile, cow’s milk sales have declined 3%.

Emerging plant-based dairy categories are growing even faster as more households are introduced to other plant-based dairy items. In the past year, plant-based yogurt has grown 39%, while conventional yogurt declined 3%; plant-based cheese has grown 19%, while conventional cheese is flat; and plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty has grown 27%, while conventional ice cream and frozen novelty has grown just 1%.

The plant-based meat category alone is worth more than $800 million, with sales up 10% in the past year. Plant-based meat now accounts for 2% of retail packaged meat sales. Refrigerated plant-based meat is driving category growth with sales up an impressive 37%. In comparison, sales in the conventional meat category grew just 2% during the same period.

“This is just the beginning of a massive growth period for plant-based foods,” said Good Food Institute 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.”

GFI and PBFA analyzed the data over the 52-week period ending April 21, 2019, from the SPINS scan Natural and Specialty Gourmet, and SPINS scan Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI) channels.