Home » Plant-Based Food Outpacing Total Food Sales Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Plant-Based Food Outpacing Total Food Sales Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

plant-based food PBFA

New data released by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and Spins, a provider of wellness-focused data and market analytics, shows U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have considerably outpaced total-food sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, exhibiting that more consumers are turning to plant-based foods amid the crisis.

“This new data shows that consumers are turning to plant-based food options now more than ever,” said Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at the PBFA. “Even after the highest panic-buying period, plant-based foods growth remains strong, proving that this industry has staying power.”

Over a 16-week period ending April 19, 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, and tofu and tempeh. Its findings show that plant-based meat sales are showing strong growth while growth of animal meat sales is declining.

“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, the plant-based meat boom of last year continues and with initial reports of animal-based meat shortages, the plant-based meat industry has gained even more traction.”

Breakdown by category

Here’s a breakdown of some of the findings, separated by category:

  • 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 foods were up a whopping 90 percent when compared to last years’ sales. Throughout the four weeks following peak panic buying, total plant-based foods sales grew at 27 percent, which is 35 percent faster than total retail food. In addition, plant-based meat retail sales were up 148 percent more than last year, spiking at 50 percent 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 percent, over twice as fast as animal-based meat, during the same period.
  • Plant-based cheese retail sales grew at 95 percent compared to last year, and growth continued at 54 percent during the four weeks post-panic buying.
  • Tofu and tempeh retail sales spiked, too, with growth at 88 percent, compared to last year, during peak panic buying and 35 percent 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,” said Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association. “PBFA members and their staff are working hard to provide consumers with nourishing foods during these difficult times and beyond.” 

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