New data released recently by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and SPINS shows that U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have considerably outpaced total food sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating that more consumers are turning to a healthier plant-based lifestyle amid the crisis. Moreover, plant-based meat sales are showing strong growth while the growth of animal meat sales is slowing down.
“This new data shows that consumers are turning to plant-based food options now more than ever,” Julie Emmett, Senior Director of Retail Partnerships at the Plant Based Foods Association said in a statement. “Even after the highest panic-buying period, plant-based food growth remains strong, proving that this industry has staying power.”
PBFA analyzed the retail sales of total plant-based foods and several fast-growing categories: plant-based meats (including how they compare to animal meats), plant-based cheese, tofu, and tempeh, over a 16-week period ending April 19, 2020.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a continued shift in consumer purchasing toward natural and organic products that enhance health and immunity,” said Tony Olson, Owner and CEO of SPINS. “Our data shows that the plant-based meat boom of last year continues, and as reports of animal-based meat shortages increase, we can expect plant-based meat to gain even more traction.”
Retail plant-based food sales, like other retail food sales, experienced a significant spike in mid-March during peak panic buying. During this time, plant-based food sales were up 90% when compared to last year’s sales. Throughout the four weeks following peak panic buying, total plant-based food sales grew at 27%, which is 35% faster than total retail food sales.
Plant-based meat retail sales were up 148% more than last year, spiking at 50% over the peak panic buying of animal-based meat. Over the four weeks following, plant-based meat sales continued to grow at a rate of 61%, almost twice as fast as animal-based meat, during the same period.
Specifically, refrigerated plant-based meat retailsales spiked at 241% during peak panic buying and grew at 113% over the four-weeks following peak panic buying.
Plant-based cheese retail sales grew 95% and growth continued at 54% during the four weeks post panic buying.
Finally, tofu and tempeh retail sales have spiked as well, with growth of 88%, compared to last year, during peak panic buying, and 35% in the four weeks post panic buying.
“These strong numbers prove that the plant-based industry is here to stay and will only continue to grow. PBFA members and their staff are working hard to provide consumers with nourishing foods during these difficult times and beyond,” said Michele Simon, Executive Director of the Plant Based Foods Association.