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Plant-based food retail sales grow 5x faster than total food sales for second consecutive year, with plant-based market now worth $5 billion

3 March 2020

New data shows plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy continue to outpace conventional animal products and remain a key engine for growth

WASHINGTON – New data released today by The Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association shows U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods continued to increase by double digits in 2019, growing 11 percent and bringing the total plant-based market value to $5 billion. Dollar sales for the total U.S. retail food market grew just 2 percent during this same period, showing that plant-based remains a key driver of growth for retailers nationwide. Commissioned from SPINS, a leading market research firm, this data covers measured channels within the total grocery marketplace.

The value of plant-based meat — the second-largest category — is approaching $1 billion, with sales growth of 18 percent in 2019. The plant-based meat category is now worth $939 million, having grown over six times faster than conventional meat and accounting for 2 percent of retail packaged meat sales. According to IRI, 14 percent of U.S. households now purchase plant-based meat. The refrigerated segment accounts for most of the growth in the plant-based meat category, with new plant-based meat products increasingly shelved adjacent to conventional meat. This placement helped propel the refrigerated segment’s growth of 63 percent last year by introducing the category to more consumers shopping for center-of-plate protein options. Growth of refrigerated plant-based burgers has been especially robust, with sales up 123 percent and reaching $283 million in 2019.

Plant-based milk — the largest category — has now surpassed $2 billion and accounts for 40 percent of the total plant-based food market. Even as the most developed plant-based category, plant-based milk grew 5 percent in dollar sales and sold 7 percent faster last year, while cow’s milk sales were flat. Almond milk is the category leader and makes up 65 percent of dollar sales. Oat milk is the fastest-growing type of plant-based milk, with dollar sales rising a staggering 686 percent in 2019. Plant-based product share of any given category is increasing, with plant-based milk now making up 14 percent of the milk category, plant-based butter making up 6 percent of the butter category, plant-based creamer making up 5 percent of the creamer category, and plant-based yogurt making up 4 percent of the yogurt category.

The success of plant-based milk — now purchased by 41 percent of U.S. households, according to IRI — has laid the groundwork for major increases in other plant-based dairy categories, which are among the fastest-growing. Across the store, plant-based food sales are growing rapidly, while sales of many conventional animal products grow only modestly or even decline. In 2019, plant-based yogurt grew 31 percent, while conventional yogurt declined 1 percent; plant-based cheese grew 18 percent, while conventional cheese grew 1 percent; and plant-based eggs grew 192 percent, while conventional eggs declined 10 percent.

“Clearly plant-based is a lasting trend that is gaining power over time,” said The Good Food Institute Associate Director of Corporate Engagement Caroline Bushnell. “We see a steady rise in plant-based products year over year across regions, which indicates that this is not a bubble or a fad, but a real change in consumer behavior. This is a tipping point, with so much product innovation yet to hit the market.

“Shifting consumer values have created a favorable market for plant-based foods, which have significantly outpaced overall grocery sales increases for three years running, making plant-based foods a growth engine for both manufacturers and retailers. This is really only the beginning: plant-based foods will continue to expand rapidly across the store in response to demand as consumers increasingly switch to foods that match their changing values and desire for more sustainable options. We expect further acceleration in 2020.”

Methodology

The data summarized here represents retail sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products, including meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy, as well as meals that contain animal ingredient replacements. Obtained from the SPINSscan Natural, Specialty Gourmet, and Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI) channels, this data pertains to the 52- and 104-week periods ending December 29, 2019.

About The Good Food Institute

The Good Food Institute is an international nonprofit building a sustainable, healthy, and just global food system. With unique insight across the scientific, regulatory, industry, and investment landscape, we are accelerating the transition of the world’s food system to alternative proteins using the power of food innovation and markets.

Media inquiries: Maia Keerie at The Good Food Institute on 415 767 8973 or via maiak@gfi.org

The Good Food Institute is an independent non-profit accelerating plant-based and cell-based meat, eggs, and dairy. Read more here.