Following up on last year’s market data, GFI is excited to share highlights of newly commissioned data from Nielsen on the U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods. Spoiler: total sales of plant-based foods now exceed $3.7 billion.
This custom dataset comprises retail sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products, including plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy, as well as meals that contain direct replacements of animal ingredients.
The data not only shows growth across all key plant-based categories but that the rate of growth itself is rapidly accelerating. While total U.S. retail food sales grew just two percent over the previous 12 months, retail sales of plant-based foods grew a phenomenal 17 percent during the same time period.
Sales of plant-based meat increased 23 percent in the past year, up from six percent growth the previous year. Notably, this increase in demand is happening all across the country. Retail sales of plant-based meat grew double-digits across all nine U.S. census regions, and some of the greatest growth is actually coming from the center of the country. For instance, refrigerated plant-based meat sales are growing fastest in the Pacific and Mountain regions, while frozen plant-based meat sales are growing fastest in the West South Central region, which includes Texas.
The fastest growing plant-based meat brand is Beyond Meat with sales up 70%, followed by Field Roast (+68%), Gardein (+51%), Dr. Praeger’s (+44%), and Quorn (+31%).
The plant-based meat category today is looking suspiciously like the plant-based milk category about ten years ago when non-dairy milk began to steal the show. Plant-based milk commands a full 13 percent of total retail milk sales nationally. By contrast, plant-based meat accounts for just about one percent of total U.S. retail meat sales. However, as it follows a similar growth trajectory, reaching share-of-market parity with plant-based milk would make the retail plant-based meat category worth almost $10 billion.
For GFI Director of Corporate Engagement Alison Rabschnuk this growth comes as no surprise: “As consumers look to decrease their meat consumption, more and more people are choosing plant-based meat. In fact, 12 percent of households across the U.S. now purchase plant-based meat.” Rabschnuk notes, “[This is] a significant increase from last year, and I expect we’ll see that trend continue.”
Similarly, as plant-based milk—a $1.8 billion market—has become an increasingly common household staple, people are seeking out other plant-based dairy products. These “other dairy alternatives” are seeing some of the greatest sales growth. Plant-based creamer sales are up by 62 percent, followed by yogurt (+54%), cheese (+41%), and ice cream (+40%).
Let’s hope there’s enough plant-based fudge out there to top all that non-dairy ice cream.