Across the board, the plant-based foods retail sector saw steady growth of 11.4% in 2019, outpacing the overall food market.
According to sales data acquired by the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA), and the Good Food Institute (GFI), U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11.4% over the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $5 billion.
This growth rate dwarfs that of the overall U.S. retail food market, which grew 2.2% over the same period. Additionally, the overall food market was flat in unit sales, PBFA reports. This show that plant-based foods were a key driver for growth of retailers nationwide.
PBFA reports that the leading drivers of plant-based growth continued to be alternatives to meat and dairy products.
“Plant-based foods remain a growth engine, up 29% over the last two years,” Julie Emmett, PBFA senior director of retail partnerships, said. “Growth is fueled by innovation in categories across the store and retailers are responding by expanding shelf space to satisfy the rapidly expanding consumer base seeking more plant-based foods.”
Here is a breakdown based on a number of food categories.
Over the past three years, plant-based foods sales on the whole saw an increase of $1.1 billion nationwide. This growth was largely fueled by innovation, as new companies come online and retail behemoths create new products to enter into the growing market share.
This represents a 22% increase in sales, compared to the U.S. retail food market, which, on the whole, only grew 2.2% across all categories.
Plant-based meats once again made waves this year, growing 18%. More brands are coming online. At the same time, as recently as yesterday some of the biggest players in the game who helped popularize plant-based meats such as Impossible Foods are continuing to cut prices by significant margins through improving production processes. Additionally, plant-based meats are continuing to rise in popularity on restaurant menus and fast food chains, who hope to draw in more vegan, vegetarian, and eco-conscious customers. The total plant-based meat category is worth $939 million, fueled largely by refrigerated products. Conventional meats only saw a 3% increase during the same period.
Plant-based milks grew 5%, dwarfing the growth of cow’s milk, which only grew 0.1% over the same time period. Plant-based milks now make up 14% of the entire milk category.
Plant-based yogurts saw a major boom this year after lagging a bit behind other alternative products. According to PBFA, plant-based yogurts grew a whopping 31.3% this year, leaving dairy yogurts in the dust with a total decline of -1.2%.
Plant-based cheese saw an 18.3% increase in sales this year, as more companies specializing in plant-based alternatives are formulating new cheese alternatives in consumer-favorite styles and higher quality, using often-fermented ingredients such nuts, cauliflower, and more to capture the essence of conventional cheese. By comparison, dairy-based cheese remained flat at 1% growth.
Other categories, such as butter, ice cream, eggs, dressings, and full meals all saw unilateral growth this year. Growth in these categories ranged anywhere from 5.7% for ice cream, to 191.7% for plant-based egg alternatives.