Plant-based food takes bigger slice of market as US retail sales hit $5bn

Credit: Daniel Jedzura

Plant-based foods have continued to grow their market share in the US with retail sales growing 11% to $5 billion in 2019, almost five times faster that total US retail food sales.

The findings are taken from data commissioned by the Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) from market research firm SPINS.

It found that in 2019, dollar sales of plant-based foods grew 29% over the past two years, compared to just 4% growth for total US retail food dollar sales over the same time period.

The plant-based meat category showed strong performance, growing 18% over the past year, up from 16% growth in 2018.

Plant-based meat reached $939 million in retail sales in 2019, and the category is on track to cross $1 billion in sales over the course of 2020.

Much of this growth was driven by refrigerated plant-based meat, which grew 63% over the past year and now makes up a full third of plant-based meat sales.

Frozen plant-based meat, which makes up roughly two-thirds of the category, only grew 4% over the same time period.

Refrigerated plant-based meat’s performance highlights an industry shift in both innovation and merchandising strategies, with refrigerated plant-based meat increasingly sold in the refrigerated meat case.

The same refrigerated vs. frozen dynamic holds within plant-based meat product types. Refrigerated plant-based burgers grew 123% over the past year and 555% over the past two years, while frozen plant-based burger growth declined by 4% over the past year and grew only 1% over the past two years.

Similarly, refrigerated plant-based links (sausages and hot dogs) grew 57% over the past year and 93% over the past two years, compared to frozen plant-based links which grew at 15% over the past year and 29% over the past two years.

Plant-based milk continues to dominate as the largest plant-based food category, with sales growing at 5% over the past year to reach $2 billion. Plant-based milk as a category accounts for 40% of the total plant-based food market.

Almond milk is still the largest plant-based milk type, but oat milk has rapidly burst onto the scene, growing 686% over the past year.

Other plant-based dairy categories like plant-based creamer and yogurt reached $287 million and $283 million respectively, while also growing at rates above 90%. Additionally, the emerging plant-based eggs category grew 192% last year and 228% over the past two years.