China Food

The latest big data of plant-based products market: which one is the wind outlet of the market: plant meat, plant milk and plant egg?

interest in the plant-based food industry has soared, driven by consumer concerns about personal health, sustainability, food safety and animal welfare.

Recently, the latest data report released by the plant based Food Association (pbfa) and the good food institute (GFI) pointed out that in 2020, the retail sales of plant-based food in the United States will continue to grow by double digits, with an increase of 27%, reaching a market size of 7 billion US dollars. The data is commissioned by pbfa and GFI to conduct a survey by spins, which only reflects the sales situation of plant-based products replacing animal products, including plant meat, plant seafood, plant eggs, plant dairy products, plant condiments, etc. the statistical time of the data is the past year up to December 27, 2020.

This growth in dollar sales is consistent across the United States, with more than 25% growth in each census area. The growth of the plant based food market is almost 2 times the growth rate of the US retail food market, which grew by 15% in 2020, because COVID-19 led to restaurant closures and consumers hoarded food during the blockade.

Figure 1: Sales of plant-based food in the United States in 2020, source: good food institute

The penetration rate of plant-based products is increasing

The 7 billion sales data of plant-based products show that consumers are experiencing a “fundamental” change, and more and more consumers are incorporating plant-based food into their diet, especially those products with good taste and health attributes. Meanwhile, the 27% increase partly reflects the shift of food consumption to households during the epidemic period, as retail outlets make up for the lost business in the catering service market, and the sales growth of plant-based products significantly exceeds the growth (+ 15%) of the whole food and beverage retail market.

2020 is a breakthrough year for plant-based food. In general, the amazing growth of plant-based foods, especially plant-based meat, has exceeded the market’s expectations, which is a clear sign of consumers’ “diet change”. In addition, the household penetration rate of plant-based products is also increasing steadily, with 57% of households shopping for plant-based products in 2020, up from 53% in 2019.

Sales of vegetable milk increased by 20%

In the year ended January 24, 2021, retail sales of vegetable milk in the United States increased by 21.9% in measurement channels to US $2.542 billion, accounting for 15% of liquid milk sales. At the same time, the growth rate of vegetable milk is twice that of ordinary milk, accounting for 35% of the whole vegetable food market. At present, 39% of American families buy vegetable milk.

We have to mention the market potential of “oat milk”. Oat milk is a relatively new product in the field of plant milk in the United States, which was hardly recorded in the data a few years ago, but it has achieved great success in recent years. In 2020, the sales of Oat Milk soared 219.3% to US $264.1 million, surpassing soybean milk to become the top 2 plant milk category.

Figure 2: growth of plant milk segmentation, map: plant milk, source: spins

Sales of plant meat products increased by 45%

Plant meat is the second largest plant-based product, with a value of US $1.4 billion in 2020 and a sales increase of 45% from US $962 million in 2019. The growth rate of vegetable meat is twice that of traditional meat, accounting for 2.7% of the retail sales of packaged meat. Currently, 18% of American households buy plant-based meat, up from 14% in 2019.

In the category of plant meat products, we need to pay attention to the plant-based seafood. Although the base of this product category is very small, the sales of plant-based seafood products are expected to increase significantly in the next few years, with a growth rate of 23% to reach US $12 million in 2020.

20% sales of plant yoghurt products

In 2020, the growth rate of vegetable yogurt products in the U.S. market will be 20.2%, almost seven times that of traditional yogurt, and the sales volume will reach US $343 million. Plant based yogurt as a subdivision of yogurt, the current development trend is rising, mainly popular in the European and American markets. Yoghurt fermented from plant-based raw materials has the advantages of low-fat and high protein. As an innovative category of yoghurt, there is a large market development space in the future.

In the domestic market, there are many enterprises in the layout of plant-based yogurt products, including Yili, Mengniu, Sanyuan, Nongfu Shanquan, etc. However, as far as the current development environment is concerned, there are still some problems in plant-based yogurt in China, such as consumers’ cognition is still in a relatively small stage, product prices are slightly higher, taste problems and so on.

Sales of other plant based products

Vegetable based cheese and vegetable based egg are the fast growing categories in the vegetable market. The growth rate of vegetable cheese is 42%, which is almost twice the growth rate of traditional cheese, and the market size reaches 270 million US dollars. The growth rate of vegetable eggs is 168%, almost 10 times of that of traditional eggs, and the market size reaches 27 million US dollars. From 2018, the growth rate of vegetable eggs is more than 700%, which is 100 times of that of traditional eggs.

In addition, the vegetable based butter market is also growing rapidly, accounting for 7% of the butter category. Vegetable milk powder increased by 32.5%, with sales data of 394 million US dollars, accounting for 6% of the milk powder category.

Industry giants bet on “replaceable protein”

With the growth of plant-based market, many food industry giants are paying attention to the alternative protein Market and developing related products. Recently, beyond meat announced its cooperation with two global fast food giants McDonald’s and KFC / Taco Bell / pizza hut, and reached an agreement with Pepsi to develop snacks and drinks featuring plant protein.

From Nestle to Unilever and Danone, leading brands of global CPG are entering the market; from Tyson food to JBS large meat enterprises; from McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC to pizza hut, Starbucks and domino; in the past 12 months, leading retailers such as Kroger and Tesco have made a “heavy bet” on replacing protein.

As for the potential market size, it is difficult to predict, because the purchase drivers of each category are different. Some products are more technically challenging than others. Price is still an obstacle. Consumers still highly value animal protein in terms of taste, texture and nutrition.

Recently, a report released by Boston Consulting Group and blue horizon Corporation predicted that by 2035, alternative proteins based on plant, microorganism and cell culture will occupy 11% of the global protein Market (290 billion US dollars). In the future, we will continue to see the increase of animal protein production for a period of time, even the share of replaceable protein will increase, because the overall protein market is still growing.

Everyone becomes a potential buyer of plant-based products

With the concern of consumers’ health, sustainability, food safety and animal welfare, people’s interest in the plant food industry has soared. The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought additional boost to plant based food retail. These factors will continue to promote the consumption of plant foods for a long time.

From 2018 to 2020, plant claims in new US Food and beverage products increased by 116%, according to inmant data. At the same time, 35% of U.S. consumers agree that the cowid-19 / coronavirus pandemic proves that humans need to reduce the consumption of animals. In addition, between the innovation of plant-based products and the gradual return to less restrictive shopping measures, 2021 provides many opportunities for retailers to attract more consumers and expand their plant-based products.


Spins market data channels are mainly natural enhancement and traditional diversification channels, excluding some leading retailers who do not share data, including whole foods, Trader Joe s, Aldi, Costco and convenience stores, and excluding e-commerce sales, so the actual data may be higher.


Reference article:



Author: Tony; source: herbridgemedia, reprint authorized.
Joining the community: Cherry (wechat: 15240428449);
Business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246).

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