Spins data: Plant-based food sales outpace total food sales during pandemic

David Salazar
Managing Editor
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New data released by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and market analytics provider Spins is showing some eye-popping sales numbers for plant-based foods. The data finds plant-based food sales outpacing total U.S. food sales throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as strong growth from plant-based meats as traditional meat sales decline.

“This new data shows that consumers are turning to plant-based food options now more than ever,” said Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at PBFA. “Even after the highest panic-buying period, plant-based foods growth remains strong, proving that this industry has staying power,” she added.

PBFA said it analyzed retail sales of total plant-based foods, as well as specific categories, including plant-based meats, cheeses and tofu and tempeh, over the 16-week period ended April 19. Year-over-year sales for plant-based foods were up by 90%, and during peak panic buying in March, the total category’s sales grew at a rate of 27% — roughly 35% faster than total retail food.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a continued shift in consumer purchasing toward natural and organic products that enhance health and immunity,” said Tony Olson, owner and CEO of Spins. “Our data shows, the plant-based meat boom of last year continues and as reports of animal-based meat shortages increase, we can expect plant-based meat to gain even more traction.” 

Plant-based meat sales were up 148% year over year. Refrigerated plant-based meats saw 241% year-over-year growth. Compared with the same period last year, plant-based cheese sales were up by 95%, with growth of 54% over the course of the panic-buying period.

“These strong numbers prove that the plant-based industry is here to stay and will only continue to grow. PBFA members and their staff are working hard to provide consumers with nourishing foods during these difficult times and beyond,” said Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association.

Plant-based foods have proven to be an especially big opportunity for private brands. From Trader Joe’s Soyrizo and other meat alternatives to Kroger’s Emerge under its Simple Truth Plant Based line, which features 50 products. In Store Brands’ April issue, we examined the investments that retailers and suppliers have made in the plant-based food space.

The full PBFA/Spins report can be found here.