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US retail sales of plant-based foods hits $5 billion

U.S. plant-based food sales grew more than five times total retail food sales in 2019, according to new data from the Plant Based Foods Association.

U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11.4% in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $5 billion, according to new data released March 3 by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and The Good Food Institute.

The total U.S. retail food market has grown just 2.2% in dollar sales during this same period—and was flat in unit sales—showing that plant-based foods are a key driver of growth for retailers nationwide. This data covers the total grocery marketplace and was commissioned from SPINS.

The leading drivers of plant-based sales continue to be plant-based milks, meat, dairy alternatives in general, and plant-based meals. Sales of plant-based milks grew 5% over the past year, now making up 14% of the entire milk category. Meanwhile, cow’s milk sales are nearly flat.

The total plant-based meat category alone is worth more than $939 million, with sales up 18% in the past year. Refrigerated plant-based meat is driving growth, up 63%. In comparison, sales in the conventional meat category grew just 3% during the same period. Plant-based meat now accounts for 2% of retail packaged meat sales.

“Plant-based foods remain a growth engine, up 29% over the last two years,” said Julie Emmett, PBFA senior director of retail partnerships. “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.”

Brands also are entering the market with innovative dairy alternatives. (Check out FBI’s Formulating for Success in the Dairy Alternative Aisle – digital magazine). Emerging plant-based dairy categories are growing even faster as more households are introduced to new plant-based dairy items, while sales of many conventional animal-based products stagnate or decline. In the past year, plant-based yogurt has grown 31%, while conventional yogurt declined 1%; plant-based cheese has grown 18%, while conventional cheese has remained flat at 1% growth. Plant-based creamers alone account for almost $300 million, growing 34% with its share of total creamers growing from 4% a year ago to 6% in 2019.

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