WASHINGTON — New data issued by The Good Food Institute (G.F.I.) and the Plant-Based Foods Association (P.B.F.A.) show plant-based foods sales significantly outpaced overall grocery sales last year. U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods grew 11% — five times more than total food sales — bringing the total plant-based market to $4.5 billion.
The leading drivers of plant-based sales continue to be meat and dairy alternatives, including milks, cheese, yogurts and ice cream. Sales of plant-based milks grew 6% over the past year and now make up 13% of the entire milk category, while cow’s milk sales declined 3%.
Emerging plant-based dairy categories experienced the most rapid growth. Spreads, dips, sour cream and sauces grew more than any other category, expanding by 52%. While other plant-based categories experienced similar growth, sales of conventional animal products stagnated or declined. Plant-based yogurt sales grew 39% while conventional yogurt declined 3%. Plant-based cheese grew 29% while conventional cheese was flat. Plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty grew 27% while conventional sales grew 1%.
The plant-based meat category grew by 10% and is now worth more than $800 million, according to the report. Plant-based meats accounted for 2% of retail packaged meat sales, with refrigerated plant-based meat growing 37%, the report said. Sales in the conventional meat category, in contrast, grew by 2%.
“This is just the beginning of a massive growth period for plant-based foods,” said Caroline Bushnell, associate director of corporate engagement for The Good Food Institute. “Consumer appetite for plant-based foods is surging as consumers increasingly make the switch to foods that match their changing values and desire for more sustainable options. This growth will continue as more companies bring next-generation innovations to market that really deliver on the most important driver of consumer choice: taste.”
The P.B.F.A. added that retailers should respond to the growing demand for plant-based foods by offering more variety and maximizing shelf space.