Plant-based food sales growth exceeded total food sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to new data published by Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and SPINS, plant-based food sales soared during and after the weeks of peak panic-buying that took place in March and April.
In mid-March, sales of plant-based foods were up 90% compared to the same period in 2019. During the four next weeks, plant-based food sales at supermarkets grew 35% faster than total retail food sales.
During the peak (mid-March), vegan meat retail sales spiked 148% compared to 2019 and continued to grow at a rate of 61% for the four following weeks.
Vegan cheese sales were up 95% year to year in mid-March, growing at 54% for the four weeks after.
Tofu and tempeh retail sales hit 88% growth compared to 2019 and continuing to grow at 35% during the next four weeks.
Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at Plant Based Foods Association, said: “This new data shows that consumers are turning to plant-based food options now more than ever.
"Even after the highest panic-buying period, plant-based foods growth remains strong, proving that this industry has staying power.”
Before the pandemic analysis of SPINS data by the Plant Based Foods Association and Good Food Institute estimated the entire plant-based food market was worth $5 billion.
The pandemic has helped sales in all categories of the food business. But plant-based products also benefited from consumers' increased interest in healthier options.
Many shoppers believe that plant-based food comes from what could be viewed as a safe source. The processing facilities where plant-based meat is made also are considered safer and healthier.
“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,” Tony Olson, owner and CEO of SPINS, said in a statement.
“Our data shows, 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.”