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Here’s How Much Plant-Based Food Sales Have Grown Since 2018

Here’s How Much Plant-Based Food Sales Have Grown Since 2018

While some have speculated that interest in the plant-based meat sector is slowing, sales in the category have grown by 74 percent to reach $1.4 billion in 2021.

Plant-based food sales in the US hit $7.4 billion in 2021, growing by a whopping 54 percent since 2018 — significantly outpacing total food dollar sales, which only grew two percent in the last three years. This data was released in a new report by nonprofit Good Food Institute (GFI), which also noted that when it came to unit sales, the plant-based food industry experienced a six percent growth since 2018 while total food sales were stagnant. 

Most notably, the report pointed out that dollar sales of products in categories including plant-based milk, meat and eggs, outpaced sales of the animal products they aim to replace. The largest growth occurred in the plant-based eggs, creamer and ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages categories, which grew by 42 percent, 33 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, dollar sales of traditional eggs slowed by four percent, dairy-based creamer remained stagnant and non-plant-based RTD beverages grew by only three percent.

“Product innovation is critical for plant-based categories to continue to earn a larger share of the market, said GFI research and analysis manager Karen Formanski, in a statement. “Getting more consumers to eat plant-based foods more often requires improved taste and texture to compete with animal products, more product diversity and greater affordability and accessibility.”

Related: Retail Sales of Plant-Based Foods Surged to $7 Billion in 2020

Plant-Based Food Sales Outpacing Animal Products

Even though plant-based food sales are already outpacing that of animal products in various categories, they have the potential to grow even larger. GFI’s numbers show that an overwhelming majority of Americans (98 percent) who purchase plant-based meat are also buying animal-based meat, signaling that the total potential market for these products extends well beyond vegetarians and vegans.

When it comes to market share, plant-based alternatives to dairy, meat and eggs are gaining on their animal-based counterparts, with plant-based milk now holding 16 percent of the share of the total milk market, up from 12 percent in 2018. GFI found that 79 percent of shoppers made repeat purchases across multiple plant-based food categories, with plant-based milk leading the way at a repeat rate of 76 percent.

“As businesses recognize the staying power of plant-based foods, the food industry must seize these opportunities to maximize the vast potential of plant-based alternatives to compete with animal products,” Formanski said in the same statement.

In terms of plant-based meat, while some have speculated that interest in the sector is slowing, sales numbers in GFI’s report indicated otherwise. Since 2018, sales of plant-based meat and plant-based seafood have grown by 74 percent to reach $1.4 billion in 2021, outpacing the growth of animal-based meat three times over.

Based on this data, GFI predicts that plant-based meat could follow a similar trajectory to plant-based milk. Not to mention, given the progress in scaling the industry, meat alternatives could soon become cheaper than their animal counterparts. And while the global alt meat sector raised a record $5 billion in investment capital in 2021, GFI explains that the success of this industry is not predictable and needs further support.  

Meanwhile, on a global scale, Statista predicts the plant-based food market will reach $77.8 billion by 2025 and by 2030, the market will have more than doubled to reach $161.9 billion.