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Industry News & Insights


11 Apr 2023

$8 Billion U.S. Plant-Based Food Sector Shows ‘Momentum and Resilience’, PBFA Report Finds

$8 Billion U.S. Plant-Based Food Sector Shows ‘Momentum and Resilience’, PBFA Report Finds

In its State of the Marketplace 2022 Summary Report, the Plant Based Foods Association takes a deep dive into the category and identifies key trends ahead.


Despite inflation over the last year and lackluster sales for several plant-based category leaders that dipped the sector by 3 percent, 2022 still saw growth, the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) says in its latest industry report. Overall, U.S. plant-based food sales grew 6.6 percent, bringing the category to $8 billion for the year.


“The plant-based foods industry’s momentum and resilience – built on robust consumer demand – is evident across 2022 retail and e-commerce sales and foodservice performance,” Julie Emmett, PBFA Vice President of Marketplace Development, said in a statement.


“We know consumer interest is strong, now it’s a matter of continuing to increase access and awareness for existing and future innovative plant-based options and furthering the exciting potential of this industry,” Emmett said.


The findings

The rise in plant-based sales comes from the increasing adoption by mainstream, flexitarian consumers, the report says. Sixty percent of total U.S. households are now regularly purchasing plant-based alternatives to conventional animal products, with 80 percent repeating those purchases.


This increase in plant-based purchases comes as animal-based food sales have declined, PBFA says, with plant-based seeing particularly noteworthy growth across eggs, protein powder, coffee creamer, RTD beverages, and dips and spreads. The categories driving the bulk of sales continue to be milk, followed by meat, creamer, ready-meals, and ice cream.


“The variety of standout categories speaks to the expansion of consumer interest in plant-based options for every eating occasion, from post-workout smoothies to morning coffee to indulgent meals,” PBFA notes.


As the sector leader, plant-based milk is now in more than 40 percent of U.S. homes, the report finds, accounting for 15 percent of all fluid milk sales, with 75 percent of those consumers repeat buyers. The vegan milk category grew nine percent to $2.8 billion in 2022.


“Against a backdrop of heavy inflation, plant-based milk units declined by two percent,” the report notes. “As consumers stretched their dollar across total food sales, the price gap between plant-based milk and animal-based milk impacted overall purchasing. In comparison, animal-based milk was also down two percent in units, but saw a 12 percent increase in dollar sales, illustrating the outsized role of inflated
pricing in growing sales figures for animal-based milk.”


While vegan meat sales remained steady over 2021 numbers, the report notes the category is diversifying, with vegan chicken driving the bulk of sales. The frozen vegan meat category grew by five percent and shelf-stable options grew by more than 80 percent while refrigerated saw a 13.5 percent decline. “Many plant-based meat segments — such as filets; steaks; cutlets and jerky snacks; and nuggets, tenders, and wings — are growing in both dollars and units, while plant-based chunks and strips, deli slices, and meatballs are growing in dollar sales, demonstrating consumer adoption of many different varieties of plant-based meat,” reads the report.


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