The plant-based movement gains greater traction every day, with the popularization of alternative cuisines across the United States. Plant-based food experienced a growth of 27 percent throughout 2020, surpassing $7 billion in sales and showcasing to the world shifting consumer trends. The Good Food Institute published the report commissioned by the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) and compiled by SPINS that revealed the popular surge of plant-based products.

“The data tells us unequivocally that we are experiencing a fundamental shift,” Senior Director of Retail Partnerships at PBFA told Plant Based News. “An ever-growing number of consumers are choosing foods that taste good and boost their health by incorporating plant-based foods into their diet. As the industry surpasses the $7 billion thresholds...PBFA is excited to continue our work to help build a sustainable infrastructure, including domestic ingredients sourcing, for this growing demand to expand access to plant-based foods.”

The plant-based sector expanded with double the speed of the overall food market. The consumer purchases display a general shift towards plant-based products and animal alternatives. The report shows that 57 percent of Americans purchase plant-based food to substitute animal-based products compared to the 53 percent from 2019.

Plant-Based Milk Has Seen the Largest Growth

The most expansive and largest industry in the plant-based sector is the plant milk market, which saw significant profit gains over last year. The category hit $2.5 billion in 2020, making up 35 percent of the plant-based market and showing an overarching acceptance of dairy alternatives. Besides milk, the second-largest category, plant-based meats, garnered $1.4 billion, lead by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Following COVID-19, the plant-based market surged with many Americans switching to plant-based alternatives for health concerns. The over market shifted severely seeing a general shift to a plant-based diet, whether in individual purchases or overall diet.

“2020 was a breakout year for plant-based foods across the store. The incredible growth we saw in plant-based foods overall, particularly plant-based meat, surpassed our expectations and is a clear sign of where consumer appetites are heading,” GFI Research Analyst Kyle Gaan said. “Almost 40 percent of households now have plant-based milk in their fridge, and at this rate, it won’t be long until we see just as many households purchasing plant-based meat.”

Plant-Based Yogurt, Cheese, and Eggs Continue to Grow

Alternatives across the board experienced a market influx. SPINS reported that plant-based yogurt increased its sales by 20 percent, plant-based cheese increased by 42 percent, and plant-based eggs increased by 168 percent. The plant-based egg category, lead by Eat Just which makes JUST Egg, has seen a 700 percent growth since 2018, making it one of the fastest-growing products on the market. Companies continue to adapt to rapidly shifting consumer demands, leading to the spike in these product categories. The future for the plant-based product is showing an unstoppable momentum, giving plant-based shoppers more options for their changing palettes.

“The plant-based category has evolved to the point that retailers can’t limit who they consider the plant-based shopper,” SPINS HEad of Retail Dawn Valandignham said. “They should now assume everyone is a potential plant-based buyer and educate them enough to see the possibilities. Between the innovation in plant-based products and the gradual return to less restrictive shopping measures, 2021 offers many opportunities for retailers to appeal to more customers and expand their plant-based offerings.”

With the number of plant-based consumers growing every day, companies have started recognizing the limitless potential in the plant-based market. 2020 may have been the breakout year for plant-based products, but the market appears to have only just sprouted.

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