LONDON — Entrepreneurial start-up Caulipower’s vegetable-based pizza totaled $45 million in U.S. sales during 2018, its first full year on the market. The company expects this number to double in its second year, anticipating $100 million in U.S. sales in 2019.

Julian Mellentin, director of food business consultancy New Nutrition Business and author of a new report, “How to succeed with the plant-based food trend: Four strategies for success – and one to avoid,” said Caulipower’s performance is more impressive than that of the plant-based burger maker Beyond Meat, which achieved $50 million in U.S. sales in 2018. Beyond Meat is backed by $270 million of Silicon Valley investment and significant publicity, while Caulipower is an entrepreneurial start-up with only $5 million in investment.

Mr. Mellentin said Caulipower’s first-year sales almost equaled those of Beyond Meat, despite having less resources, because the cauliflower pizza more closely aligns with consumer needs.

While plant-based burgers are often held up as the next growth market, Mr. Mellentin cautioned that the meat substitute business already is overcrowded and underperforming.

Brands like Caulipower, PepsiCo’s Off the Eaten Path, Love Beets and others have succeeded by tapping into what the health-conscious consumer wants: natural, least processed plant-based products with short ingredient lists.

This strategy offers better opportunities for building a profitable and sustainable business than the hyper-competitive plant-based meat substitutes market.

“The plant-based food trend presents companies and brands with a major growth opportunity, but they need to choose strategy carefully,” Mr. Mellentin said. “The success of Caulipower — and other plant-based brands just like it — underscores that consumers don’t want extruded plant protein burgers as much as they want convenient, all-natural vegetables.”