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US a hot-house for plant-based food growth

9th April 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | | @foodtickernz

For the third consecutive year the growth in sales of plant-based meat, dairy and eggs in the US outpaced conventional animal product sales, as the plant-based sector went from strength to strength in 2020.

According to new research from Plant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute, US retail sales of plant-based foods leaped by double digits in 2020, growing 27% to bring the total value of the plant-based market to US$7bn.

Some 57% of households now purchase plant-based foods, up from 53% in 2019, according to the research, which found growth was consistent across the nation as sales rose by a quarter in every US census region in 2020.

The total US retail food market also saw strong growth, increasing 15% in 2020 as Covid-19 shuttered restaurants and consumers stocked up on food amid lockdowns, according to the research.

Plant-based meat biggest mover

Looking at different sectors in the plant-based market, PBFA and GFI found that plant-based meat experienced the greatest growth. Sales in the second-largest plant-based category expanded by 45% in 2020, to hit $1.4bn in 2020 up from $962m in 2019.

This saw the plant-based meat category grow twice as fast as conventional meat to now account for 2.7% of retail packaged meat sales.

The research also found that 18% of US households now purchase plant-based meat, up from 14% in 2019. And consumers are coming back for more it said, with 63% of shoppers counted as high-repeat customers.

Refrigerated plant-based meat sales grew 75% in 2020.

The research said that the placement of products increasingly shelved adjacent to conventional meat helped propel growth in the segment, with refrigerated plant-based meat sales increasing more than twice as fast as frozen plant-based meat sales, which grew 30% in 2020 — 10 times faster than in 2019.

Plant-based milk continues to deliver

The largest plant-based category, plant-based milk, delivered sales of $2.5bn in 2020 to account for 35% of the total plant-based food market.

Even as the most developed category, it grew 20% in dollar sales, up from 5% in 2019. This was twice as fast as cow’s milk and it was now purchased by 39% of US households, according to the research.

Almond milk remained the category leader and accounted for about two thirds of plant-based milk dollar sales. Oat milk catapulted to the second-leading segment, ahead of soy milk, with sales more than tripling in 2020 and growing 25-fold since 2018.

Plant-based product share of all conventional categories was increasing, with plant-based milk now making up 15% of the milk category, plant-based butter making up 7% of the butter category, and plant-based creamer making up 6% of the creamer category.

While plant-based milk boasted a significant share of milk sales in all stores at 15%, it constituted an even greater share of milk sales in natural food stores at 45%.  

The success of plant-based milk laid the groundwork for major increases in sales of other plant-based dairy products, which are collectively approaching $2bn according the research.

Plant-based yogurt grew 20% in 2020, almost seven times the rate of conventional yogurt; plant-based cheese grew 42%, almost twice the rate of conventional cheese; and plant-based eggs grew 168%, almost 10 times the rate of conventional eggs. The plant-based egg category grew more than 700% from 2018, 100 times the rate of conventional eggs.

And although Covid-19 provided and extra boost to the plant-based market, the growth trajectory was set to continue, according to PBFA and GFI.

“Covid-19 gave retail sales of plant-based foods an extra boost at a time when interest in the sector was already surging, driven by a focus among consumers on personal health, sustainability, food safety, and animal welfare.

“These factors will continue to propel consumption of plant-based foods far into the future.”



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