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US plant-based retail market hits $4.5 billion

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Data shows plant-based meat, eggs and dairy foods are fueling growth in the $4.5 billion plant-based market.

U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11% in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $4.5 billion, according to data released July 16 by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and The Good Food Institute.

The total U.S. retail food market has grown just 2% in dollar sales during this same period, showing that plant-based foods are a key driver of growth for retailers nationwide. Since April 2017, total plant-based food sales have increased 31%.

Plant-based foods unit sales are up 8.5%, compared to total U.S. food sales, which are flat, showing the overall health and momentum of the plant-based foods category. Data covers the total U.S. grocery marketplace and was commissioned from SPINS, a wellness-focused data technology company and retail analytics provider.

Leading drivers of plant-based sales continue to be plant-based milks; plant-based dairy such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream; and plant-based meats. Across the store, plant-based food sales are growing rapidly, while sales of many conventional animal products stagnate or decline. Sales of plant-based milks have grown 6% over the past year, making up 13% of the entire milk category. Cow’s milk sales have declined 3%.

The plant-based meat category is worth more than $800 million, with sales up 10% in the past year. Plant-based meat now accounts for 2% of retail packaged meat sales. Refrigerated plant-based meat is driving category growth with sales up an impressive 37% compared to the conventional meat category that grew 2% during the same period.

Emerging plant-based dairy categories are growing even faster as more households are introduced to other plant-based dairy items. In the past year, plant-based yogurt has grown 39%, while conventional yogurt declined 3%; plant-based cheese has grown 19%, while conventional cheese is flat; and plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty has grown 27%, while conventional ice cream and frozen novelty has grown just 1%.

“Plant-based foods are a growth engine, significantly outpacing overall grocery sales,” said PBFA Senior Director of Retail Partnerships Julie Emmett. “We are now at the tipping point with the rapid expansion of plant-based foods across the entire store, so it is critical for retailers to continue to respond to this demand by offering more variety and maximizing shelf space to further grow total store sales.”

Learn more about plant-based nutrition during the “How to Win in the Booming Plant-based Nutrition Sector” workshop on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 9 a.m. at SupplySide West in Las Vegas.


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