Market value of plant-based food reaches $5 billion, report says

Market value of plant-based food reaches $5 billion, report says

6 March 2020
In 2018, plant-based sales posted another 11% rise, for a total market value of $4.5 billion. 

Plant-based dairy was a prime mover last year, with cheese sales climbing 18% and creamers up 34%. That category comprised 40% of the entire plant-based food market, the data showed. While almond milk is still out ahead of the pack, oat-based beverages such as Oatly and Planet Oat are rapidly catching up.

Also showing increasing strength last year were refrigerated plant-based meat products, with the Beyond Burger, the Awesome Burger from Nestlé's Sweet Earth Foods, Hormel's Happy Little Plants lineup and a number of others being sold in refrigerated meat cases of grocery stores. According to The Good Food Institute, Kroger tested plant-based meat in a special plant-based protein section in meat aisles for 20 weeks last fall, which it called a good example of this change in retail strategy to help boost sales. 

The popularity of these products resulted in a 123% jump in sales of refrigerated plant-based burgers last year and a 4% drop in their frozen counterparts, the latest statistics found. It's possible companies shift focus away from frozen options, although they currently make up about two-thirds of the category.

3 Key points

  • According to statistics commissioned from the SPINS market research firm, U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods rose 11.4% last year, for a total market value of $5 billion. Dollar sales jumped 29% during the past two years, the Plant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute reported, compared to 4% for total U.S. retail food dollar sales for the same period.
  • Major movers in the category were plant-based milks, meat, dairy alternatives and plant-based meals, the groups said. Plant-based milk sales were up 5% in 2019 and comprised 14% of the milk category, while sales of cow's milk were nearly flat, the report noted.
  • Plant-based meat sales were up 18% last year, with the category worth more than $939 million. A big growth driver was refrigerated plant-based meat, where sales leaped 63%. Conventional meat sales edged up 3% in 2019, the groups noted. Plant-based meat currently accounts for 2% of retail packaged meat sales.