Plant-Based Foods Stagnate

Meat alternatives had a rapid rise, but what does their plateau mean?

July 19, 2023

Plant-based meats have been growing quickly over the last decade as consumers and families, fueled by health and environmental concerns. Some of that growth has slowed, so what’s next?

Sales for beef alternative patties and meatless sausages increased 18% in 2019 and 45% in 2020, according to Vox. And in 2019, “Beyond Meat had the most successful stock market debut of any company since the 2008 financial crisis, and later that year, the Impossible Whopper landed on every Burger King menu in the country.”

However, recent data from the Good Foods Institute showed that meat alternative sales declined by around 1% in 2022 as unit sales in plant-based meat declined by 8%.

Vox also notes that “conventional meat had a better year, with sales up 8% and a 4% dip in units sold, according to another analysis.”

According to Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), alternative meat sales declined in 2022 while other categories like non-diary milk, protein liquids and powders, ready-to-drink beverages and plant-based snack bars grew by 8%,14%, 17% and 13%, respectively. This indicates that while plant-based meats are still a hard sell, consumers are paying attention to non-animal-based products on the market.

As stated in the Plant Based Foods Association’s 2022 U.S. Retail Sales Data for The Plant-Based Foods Industry report, “We found 70% of the total U.S. population is consuming plant-based foods, up from 66% one year ago.”

“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, vice president, marketplace development, PBFA, said.

The report continues, “In 2022, plant-based meat dollar sales remained remarkably stable at $1.4 billion, decreasing slightly by 1.2%. While overall units have declined by 8.2% in plant-based meat, this category continues to hold a steady 2.5% market share of all packaged meat.”

The PBFA report notes that 17.5% of households have bought plant-based meat, specifically, with 62.5% of those consumers repeating their purchase.

With trends changing across the country and in-store, it can be a challenge to stay on track. Access comprehensive industry benchmarks in this newly released NACS State of the Industry Report® of 2022 Data, available now in digital and limited print.