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Driven by growing environmental awareness, ethical concerns, and health reasons, consumers are choosing plant-based more than ever before—and this shift in appetite is quickly reflecting on industry market data.
Data in the latest market report by the leading natural and specialty product research and insight provider SPINS, which was commissioned by the Good Food Institute (GFI), shows that plant-based is going to be the future of food.
While the data only refers to the market in the United States, it provides a snapshot of an unstoppable global trend. From the number of food manufacturers and startups offering vegan products to sales and purchases, here are 10 figures that demonstrate the disruptive growth of the plant-based industry.
1. Plant-based retail market is now worth more than US$5 billion
Annual plant-based food retail in the United States is now topping US$5 billion in total, which reflects a strong 18.4% growth on a year-on-year basis. Commenting on the overall strength of the plant-based market, Plant-Based Food Association (PBFA) senior director of retail partnerships Julie Emmett said that growth is “fuelled 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.”
2. Plant-based food grew 29% in 2 years
Average dollar sales in the United States of plant-based foods altogether jumped 11% in 2019 to reflect a 29% growth within just two years. In comparison, total retail food dollar sales in the United States grew by a mere 2% in 2019 and just 4% over the same two-year period.
3. Plant-based meat is now a US$939 million market
It’s likely that you have noticed plant-based meat substitutes showing up almost everywhere across specialty stores and mainstream supermarkets alike. This isn’t just a fad – plant-based meats are now valued at a whopping US$939 million in the United States alone, with vegan burgers, sausages and patties amongst the top-sellers taking up a good chunk of the market share.
4. More than 208 million units of plant-based meat were sold in 2019
With so many consumers buying plant-based meat products on the regular or at least interested in trying out healthier and more sustainable alternatives, 2019 saw a record-shattering number of plant-based meat sales, with over 208 million units sold in the United States. The number of American households regularly purchasing plant-based meat is 14%, and the researchers believe that this figure is positioned to increase almost threefold in the next year.
5. Plant-based milk market now valued at US$2 billion
The non-dairy milk category has stayed firmly put as a strong contender driving plant-based food retail growth, and is now worth a total of US$2 billion, which accounts for 40% of the total plant-based food market in the United States.
6. Plant-based milk has taken over 14% of all milk retail sales
Across all the plant-based food categories, the plant-based milk category has been able to take over the largest share of the same category in the conventional market. In 2019, vegan milk took up 14% of all dollar sales for retailed milk in the United States, which equates to more than 620 million units sold in just one year. Across the United States, plant-based milk is now purchased by 41% of households.
7. Oat milk sales grew 1,946% in just 2 years
Of all the types of plant milk available, oat milk is experiencing the fastest growth of all in the United States. Oat milk reached US$84 million in sales in 2019, which reflects a 686% annual growth in 2019 and 1,946% over the last two years.
8. Non-milk plant-based dairy sector is now worth US$1.4 billion
It isn’t just vegan milk that are having a moment. The past year saw a proliferation of all kinds of dairy alternative products introduced to the market to great fanfare, from yoghurt to cheese, butter, creamers, ice cream, non-dairy spreads and dips, sour cream substitutes and vegan ready-to-drink beverages. Altogether, these products other dairy products (dairy alternatives excluding milk) were worth US$1.4 billion in 2019 in the United States.
9. Tofu & tempeh grew 15% since 2017
Just because a whole host of new innovative plant-based products have launched on the market doesn’t mean that traditional vegan protein sources have gone out of style. According to the report, long-running plant-based protein staples such as tofu and tempeh have experienced a 15% increase in sales in the United States in the past 2 years, a figure that will remain on the uptrend as the health-conscious consumer demographic continues to grow. Together, the tofu and tempeh category is worth US$128 million.
10. Plant-based eggs are now valued at US$10 million
While the plant-based egg category is still in its nascent stages, with brands such as JUST Egg becoming more widely available across the country and expanding abroad, the sector has shown an incredible growth in the United States, jumping 228% in two years and 192% in 2019 alone.
Lead image courtesy of respective brands, compiled by Green Queen Media.