The Plant Based Foods Assn. (PBFA) and The Good Food Institute (GFI) released new data this week showing that U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods grew 11.4% in 2019, bringing the total plant-based market value to $5 billion. The overall 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.
The information covers the total grocery marketplace and was commissioned by SPINS, a wellness-focused data technology company and retail analytics provider.
The leading drivers of plant-based sales continue to be plant-based milk, meat, dairy alternatives in general and meals, the data revealed. Sales of plant-based milk grew 5% in 2019 and now makes up 14% of the entire milk category.
The total plant-based meat category alone is worth more than $939 million, with sales rising 18% in the past year. Refrigerated plant-based meat is driving the growth, up 63%. In comparison, sales in the conventional meat category grew 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,” PBFA senior director of retail partnerships Julie Emmett 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.”
Emerging plant-based dairy categories are growing even faster as more households are introduced to new plant-based dairy items. In the past year, plant-based yogurt sales have grown 31%, and plant-based cheese has grown 18%. Plant-based creamers alone account for almost $300 million, up 34%, with the plant-based share of total creamers growing from 4% a year ago to 5% in 2019.