Retail sales of plant-based foods in the U.S. reached $7 billion in 2020, according to new data released this week by the Good Food Institute and the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA). Sales grew 27 percent in total, which is nearly twice as fast as total U.S. food retail sales. The $7 billion figure includes plant-based meats, eggs, and dairy products.
Plant-based milk is still the largest category of the bunch, and grew at 20 percent over the last year to reach $2.5 billion in sales. Almond milk remains the top seller, though oat milk is catching up, according tot he report.
Plant-based meat analogues nabbed second place in terms of retail sales, which grew to $1.4 billion in 2020. GFI called plant-based grounds — or plant-based versions of ground beef — the “breakout” product format. “Plant-based ground sales more than doubled in size over the course of 2020, in part due to the introduction and increased distribution of those products in retail.”
Findings for other plant-based categories in the report include:
- Eggs, once a tiny category, grew 168 percent — a 706 percent increase over the past two years.
- Ice cream grew 20 percent, to $435 million.
- Yogurt grew 20 percent, to $343 million.
- Butter and cheese grew 36 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
Obviously the reason for the increase in sales is that consumers are more interested than ever in eating these products, particularly as traditional meat comes under fire for both environmental and ethical reasons. GFI’s report noted a 3.4 percent jump in U.S. households purchasing plant-based foods in 2020, reaching 56.8 percent of consumers.
The new data comes on the heels of a March report from GFI that found $2.1 billion had been invested in plant-based foods in 2020, including the $700 million raised by Impossible, LIVEKINDLY’s $335 million, and Oatly’s $200 million in private equity financing.
As far as who is actually buying these products, GFI found, in this week’s report, that the demographic tends to be “from higher income brackets.” However, we can expect that to change, according to the Institute: “As plant-based food prices drop over time and begin to reach price parity with animal-based products, we can expect consumers from lower income brackets to increase their purchasing of plant-based products as well.”