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Plant-based food, beverage sales reach new high in 2021Plant-based food, beverage sales reach new high in 2021

Retail sales of plant-based food and beverages have increased three times faster than total retail food sales, according to a Plant Based Foods Association report.

March 24, 2022

3 Min Read
Plant-based food, beverage sales reach new high in 2021
Getty/New Hope Network

Sales of plant-based foods and beverages reached a record high of $7.4 billion in 2021, the Plant Based Foods Association announced Thursday.

That's a 6.2% increase over 2020's record sales. In the past three years, sales of plant-based foods have increased 54%. The data was collected by the Association, the Good Food Institute and SPINS.


At retail, plant-based food sales increased three times faster than total food sales and sales growth in most plant-based categories is exceeding growth in the comparable conventional categories, according to the Plant Based Food Association.


"The sustained rise in the market share of plant-based foods is remarkable and makes it clear that this shift is here to stay," Julie Emmett, PBFA senior director of marketplace development, said in a released statement. "More and more consumers are turning to plant-based options that align with their values and desire to have a positive impact on personal and planetary health."


Plant-based milk sales growth drives category growth

Sales of plant-based milk increased 4% to $2.6 billion in 2021, while sales of animal-based milk dropped 2%, according to the report.

In dollars, plant-based milk's sales growth added $105 million to the market, while conventional milk's sales decrease equaled a $264 million loss.

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Plant-based milk now accounts for 16% of the milk category's dollar sales and 20% of the category's dollar growth in the past three years. Over three years, plant-based milk sales increased 33%.


Plant-based meat sales remain strong

Dollar sales of plant-based meat was $1.4 billion, flat compared with 2020's record sales, but an increase of 74% over the past three years, according to the report.

Dollar sales of conventional meat increased three times faster than unit sales, indicating the growth in that category is driven by price increases as supply chain disruptions continue. IRI's inflation index shows that conventional retail meat prices were 13% higher in March 2022 than in March 2021.

Over the past three years, unit sales of plant-based meats increased 51% compared with 9% growth in conventional meat. Plant-based meat's market share in packaged meat has increased to 2.7% by dollar sales and 1.4% of total meat sales.

Plant-based meats continue to increase household penetration as well, now reaching 19%, with a repeat rate of 64%.

Plant-based creamer sales lead dairy categories

The growth of plant-based milk sales is supporting growth of other plant-based dairy products, especially creamer.

Plant-based creamer sales increased 33% in 2021, while animal-based creamer sales were flat. Plant-based butter sales increased 9% compared with a 12% decrease of animal-based butter, the report shows.

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In terms of market share, plant-based creamer is second next to milk, with ice cream and yogurt following.

In total, sales of plant-based dairy products other than milk reached $2.1 billion in 2021, even as some prices have decreased:

  • Plant-based creamers average retail price declined 6%, while units grew 25%.

  • Plant-based cheese average retail price declined 2%, while unit sales grew 6%.

  • Plant-based butter average retail price declined 2%, while units sales grew 12%.

Other plant-based food sales data

Sales of plant-based eggs increased 42% in dollar sales in 2021 and more than 1,000% over the past three years. However, eggs are still the smallest plant-based category at $39 million.

Plant-based meals sales increased 9% to reach $513 million in 2021. This was the fourth-largest category behind milk, meat and creamer.

Plant-based protein liquids and powders saw sales increase 10% to reach $289 million.

Sales of plant-based RTD beverages increased 22% to $202 million, the 10th-biggest category.

The only category in the report that saw sales drop was tofu and tempeh.


Source: Plant Based Foods Association

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