Plant-based milk, almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk
Plant-based milks are driving growth in the plant-based market.

WASHINGTON — The Plant Based Foods Association is a new trade group charged with educating and lobbying on behalf of the plant-based food industry, which the group says account for approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales.

Michele Simon
Michele Simon, executive director of The Plant Based Foods Association

“Every other sector of the food industry — from sugar to organics — is represented in the policy arena,” said Michele Simon, executive director of The Plant Based Foods Association. “The time has come for the plant-based food industry to also have a collective voice.”

The association plans to educate retailers, food service professionals, and consumers about the benefits of plant-based eating. Citing data from the market research group SPINS, the category, which includes plant-based versions of meat, tofu, milk, yogurt, cheese and cream, has grown more than 8.7% over the past two years. By comparison, the general food and beverage sector growth has been 3.7% during the same period.

Driving the growth are plant-based milks, which at $2.1 billion in sales have enjoyed 14.4% growth in total sales volume over the last two years, according to SPINS data. Plant-based meats, including meatless burgers, nuggets, tempeh, and tofu, drives over $865 million in sales, with burgers representing the largest portion of the category, and tofu leading the growth at 7% over the last two years. With advances in flavor and mouthfeel, plant-based yogurts, though still a smaller sub-category, have seen growth, topping 12.7% over two years.

In Washington, the association is working with Elizabeth Kucinich, an advocate for healthy and sustainable food. Recently, Ms. Kucinich offered remarks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how the Dietary Guidelines for Americans should encourage shifting toward a plant-based diet to improve public health and help protect the environment.

Elizabeth Kucinich
Elizabeth Kucinich, advocate for healthy and sustainable food

“Combined with the rising demands of conscious consumers, the Plant Based Foods Association can help shift public policy toward a better, more sustainable food system,” she said.

Founding board members of the association are Daiya Foods, Follow Your Heart, Miyoko’s Kitchen, The Tofurky Co., and Upton’s Natural. In addition to the association’s five founding board members, 18 food companies have joined as charter members, including Axiom Foods, Beanfields Snacks, Califia Farms, Freja’s Foods, Heidi Ho, Louisville Vegan Jerky Co., Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss, Malk Organic, New Barn, New Wave Foods, Next Level Burger, Nutpods, Real Food Daily, Sweet Earth Natural Foods, Treeline Cheese and Tofuna Fysh.

Jaime Athos
Jaime Athos, c.e.o. of The Tofurky Co.

“In the next 5 to 10 years, we are going to see a massive explosion of interest in plant-based foods,” said Jaime Athos, chief executive officer of The Tofurky Co. “We are going to see many new companies and many success stories.”