A new study has found that at US grocery stores, plant-based food sales grew three times higher than total food sales in 2021. It was conducted by The Good Food Institute (GFI), the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) and SPINS.

The study found that plant-based food sales increased 6.2% compared to previously record-high sales in 2020, and for many categories, plant-based products were more popular than dairy or flesh versions. Plant-based milk dollar sales grew 4% and 33% in the past three years to reach $2.6 billion, while animal-based milk sales declined 2% in 2021. Plant-based milk, which now accounts for 16% of all retail milk dollar sales contributed $105 million in growth, while animal-based milk’s decline equated to a loss of $264 million, with 42% of households purchasing plant-based milk. In the past three years, oat milk has been growing more than 44 times, now making up 17% of category sales, up from 0.5% in 2018.

Plant-based cheese grew 7%, while conventional cheese declined 2%. Plant-based meat sales grew 74% in the past three years, outpacing conventional meat by almost three times, with plant-based chicken being a growth leader in 2021. Plant-based seafood grew 14% to $14 million but accounts for just 1% of the plant-based meat market. The plant-based egg category grew 42% in dollar sales (in the past three years, plant-based egg dollar sales have grown more than 1000%). It is estimated that the overall vegan food market reached at least $7.4 billion in 2021 when 62% of US households are now buying plant-based products, which is an increase from 61% in 2020. Manager Karen Formanski, GFI Research and Analysis, said the following: “Product innovation is critical for plant-based categories to continue to earn a larger share of the market. Getting more consumers to eat plant-based foods more often requires improved taste and texture to compete with animal products, more product diversity, and greater affordability and accessibility. As businesses recognize the staying power of plant-based foods, the food industry must seize these opportunities to maximize the vast potential of plant-based alternatives to compete with animal products.” It is a shame that the sales of unprocessed vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, legumes, fruit, and seeds don’t seem to be outpacing the sales of chicken, beef, eggs, fish or milk, whatever their origin — plant or animal-based.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.