Plant-based drink and meat alternatives look like they are here to stay
As the novel coronavirus pandemic got underway last March, customers suddenly found themselves buying more from the center store. This shift back to frozen and packaged foods did not preclude customers from looking for specialty items, however, as the plant-based food space grew significantly during 2020, according to a new report.
Sales of plant-based foods in the U.S. jumped 27 percent to $7 billion during 2020, according to the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and the Good Food Institute (GFI), reports Supermarket News. The products outpaced the growth of other food categories as overall U.S. retail food sales climbed 15 percent during the same time span. The biggest increase in sales by dollars was in plant-based milk (20 percent growth, $2.5 billion) and the biggest increase in sales by percentage was in plant-based meats (45 percent growth, $1.4 billion).
Throughout the pandemic, consumer packaged goods have experienced an increase in sales attributed to such habit-shifting realities as lockdowns/stay-at-home orders and the closure of restaurants, along with an unprecedentedly high rate of adoption of e-commerce ordering. In the few months before the 2020 holidays alone, CPG sales were up 10 percent year-over-year.
Early on in the pandemic, customers also often found themselves trying out new CPG products at a higher rate due to either home delivery and curbside slip-ups or out-of-stocks/substitutions.
Even before the pandemic, the plant-based meat market had gotten significant enough to draw the attention of one of the nation’s biggest grocers. In January 2020, Kroger launched its own private label plant-based meat alternative brand to compete with emerging leaders like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.
Such products have gotten closer to the mainstream in other parts of retail, as well. Starbucks began serving lattes made with oat milk, almond milk and coconut milk in select locations through the U.S. and Canada, according to Insider. The chain, CNN reports, began experiencing out-of-stocks on oat milk after adding it to its menu nationally in March.
Major fast food retailers have also been experimenting with meatless products.
McDonald’s inked a three-year deal with Beyond Meat to develop a new plant-based menu under the McPlant banner earlier this year, according to VegNews.
- U.S. plant-based food retail sales jumped 27% in 2020 – Supermarket News
- Kroger goes beyond meat and looks for impossible growth with private brand – RetailWire
- Are CPG brands headed for a very merry Christmas? – RetailWire
- Starbucks is now serving oat milk lattes at certain stores across the US as its cashes in on the craze for this non-dairy milk – Insider
- Starbucks is running out of oat milk a month after adding it to menus nationwide – CNN
- Meat Sign 3-Year Deal to Launch Plant-Based Options – VegNews
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: To what extent did the circumstances of the pandemic contribute to the purchasing of plant-based CPG products? Do you see plant-based CPG products continuing to grow in popularity post-pandemic?