Sales of plant-based foods increased 54% to $ 7.4 billion from 2018

Dollar sales of plant-based foods reached $ 7.4 billion in 2021, growing 54% since 2018, far exceeding total dollar sales of foods, which have grown only 2% in the past three. years. This data was released in a new report compiled by the nonprofit Good Food Institute (GFI), which also pointed out that when it comes to unit sales, the plant-based food industry has experienced 6% growth since 2018. , while total food sales remained unchanged.

In 2021, dollar sales of products in categories such as plant milk, meat and eggs outpaced sales of the animal products they aim to replace. The biggest growth occurred in the egg, cream and plant-based ready-to-drink beverage categories, whose dollar sales grew 42%, 33% and 22%, respectively. Meanwhile, dollar sales of animal-based eggs fell 4 percent, dairy creams stagnated, and non-plant-based RTD drinks only grew 3 percent.

“Product innovation is critical for plant-based categories to continue to gain a greater share of the market. Getting more consumers to eat plant-based foods more often requires better taste and texture to compete with animal products, greater product diversity, and greater convenience and accessibility, “Karen Formanski, Head of Research and GFI analysis. “As companies recognize the resilience of plant-based foods, the food industry must seize these opportunities to maximize the vast potential of plant-based alternatives to compete with animal products.”

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Sales of plant-based foods exceed animal products

The potential of these alternatives is great. GFI numbers show that at 98%, the vast majority of Americans who buy plant-based meat also buy animal meat, meaning the total addressable market for these products extends far beyond vegans and vegetarians. In 2021, six out of 10 American households purchased plant-based foods, up slightly from 2020, which was a turning point for food purchases spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to market share, plant-based alternatives to dairy, meat and eggs are gaining ground over their animal-based counterparts, with plant-based milk now holding a 16% share of the total milk market, compared to the 12% in 2018. GFI found that plant-based milk, which has 72% household penetration, is something of a Trojan horse when it comes to introducing plant-based alternatives to households. In 2021, 79% of shoppers made repeat purchases across multiple categories of plant-based foods, with plant-based milk leading the way with a repeat rate of 76 percent, followed by plant-based meat at 64 percent.

“As increased product development and category innovations attract consumers to the key factors of taste, price and convenience, we expect plant-based categories to follow the trajectory of plant-based milk and gain greater shares of their respective categories,” said GFI in his report.

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Is the popularity of vegetable meat waning?

While some have speculated that interest in the plant-based meat industry is slowing, the sales numbers in GFI’s report show otherwise. Sales of plant-based meat and fish-free seafood have increased 74% since 2018 to reach $ 1.4 billion in 2021, three times the growth in animal meat.

“In recent years, the food industry has seen multiple supply chain disruptions and widespread volatility. After an overstimulated 2020, unit sales of plant-based meat declined slightly in 2021, although not to the same extent as those of plant-based meat. of animal-based meat. Dollar sales of both plant-based and animal-based meat remained unchanged from 2020 to 2021, ”the GFI report said. “On a longer time scale, the animal protein market is experiencing inflation. Over the past three years, conventional dollar meat sales have grown three times faster than unit sales, indicating that the apparent growth is driven solely by higher unit prices. “

Based on this data, GFI predicts that plant-based meat could follow a similar trajectory to plant-based milk, and given advances in industry scalability, meat alternatives may soon become cheaper than the animal counterparts they aim to replace. . And while the global alternative protein industry raised a record $ 5 billion investment capital in 2021, GFI explains that the success of this industry is not “inevitable” and needs further support.

“To meet and further stimulate consumer demand and enable plant-based proteins to compete with conventional products on the table, the stakes of consumer choice – taste, price and accessibility – will require greater investment both from the private and public sectors, “GFI says in the report. “Such investments can ensure that we realize the potential of plant-based meat to help sustainably and efficiently feed billions of people, protect public health and reduce the risk of future pandemics and mitigate the global climate impact of our meat production. “.

For more information on plant-based food sales, read:
Tofu sales skyrocket amid the COVID-19 pandemic
92% of impossible hamburger sales directly replace animal meat
During the height of the pandemic, sales of plant-based foods increase by 90%.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to be accurate on March 29, 2022.

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