New data released by vegan nonprofit the Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) lobby group indicates that the U.S. plant-based market is now worth nearly $5 billion.
According to the data, plant-based retail sales increased by 11 percent in 2019. In contrast, the overall U.S. retail food market grew by just 2 percent in the same period. This means that plant-based retail sales grew five times faster than total food sales for the second consecutive year.
The data were collected by market research firm SPINS and covered measured channels within the total grocery marketplace. Plant-based milk, the largest category, has now surpassed $2 billion and makes up 40 percent of the plant-based market. Plant-based meat, the second-largest segment, is approaching $1 billion with a sales growth of 18 percent in 2019.
“Clearly plant-based is a lasting trend that is gaining power over time,” said The Good Food Institute’s Associate Director of Corporate Engagement Caroline Bushnell.
“We see a steady rise in plant-based products year over year across regions,” continued Bushnell. “Which indicates that this is not a bubble or a fad, but a real change in consumer behavior. This is a tipping point, with so much product innovation yet to hit the market.”
“Shifting consumer values have created a favorable market for plant-based foods,” added Bushnell. “Which have significantly outpaced overall grocery sales increases for three years running, making plant-based foods a growth engine for both manufacturers and retailers.”
Plant-Based Food Goes Mainstream
According to the market research company IRI, 14 percent of U.S. households now purchase plant-based meat. And Nielsen data indicate that 98 percent of those who buy meat-alternatives also regularly purchase animal products. Increased consumer demand for plant-based foods is primarily driven by this growing flexitarian demographic.
GFI and the Plant-Based Foods Association’s new data indicate that shelving vegan alternatives alongside animal products has helped maximize sales with flexitarian consumers. The sales of refrigerated, plant-based burgers increased by 123 percent to $283 million in 2019. Plant-based milk sold seven percent faster in 2019 than in 2018, generating five percent more revenue for retailers.
“This is really only the beginning,” added Bushnell. “Plant-based foods will continue to expand rapidly across the store in response to demand as consumers increasingly switch to foods that match their changing values and desire for more sustainable options. We expect further acceleration in 2020.”
Plant-Based Egg Sales Soar
Data released by GFI and the PBFA also indicates sales of plant-based eggs in the U.S. have increased by 192 percent. Conventional egg sales declined by 10 percent.
JUST’s mung bean liquid egg is one of the brands leading the surge in plant-based egg sales. The company has sold the equivalent of more than 20 million eggs since launching in December 2017.
According to Chicago-based market research firm IRI, JUST’s vegan egg was the second bestselling liquid egg over a 12 week period ending March 24, 2019.