Prompted by health concerns, four in 10 shoppers buy plant-based meat and/or dairy products, with most doing so on a regular basis, new research from CPG sales and marketing firm Acosta shows.
Forty percent of consumers polled in March purchased plant-based meat and/or dairy products within the last six months, with 60% buying plant-based products several times per month, according to Acosta’s “Plant-Based Eating: Trend or Fad?” report, released last week. The study, based on online surveys from the company’s proprietary Shopper Community, found that customers typically buy plant-based meat and dairy items to replace beef, pork and traditional milk.
Most of these purchases are made at the supermarket. Among those surveyed, 77% said they buy plant-based foods at traditional grocery stores, and 20% reported buying these products online.
“Consumers’ focus on healthy living increased significantly since the onset of COVID-19,” explained Kathy Risch, senior vice president of business intelligence at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta. “Larger conversations about the importance of health and wellness have alerted many consumers to the potential long-term benefits of meat and dairy alternatives, and plant-based product sales are rising as a result.”
Citing data from the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), Risch noted the sharp growth in plant-based food sales last year. In 2021, U.S. sales of plant-based food at retail reached $7.4 billion, up 6.2% from 2020 but marking a 27% increase from 2019. Acosta said Bloomberg forecasts global plant-based food sales to hit $162 billion by 2030.
At the same time, consumer habits and attitudes regarding plant-based foods exhibit dueling tendencies, Acosta’s analysis indicates.
For example, the category shows solid staying power, as 64% of respondents purchase plant-based foods at least several times a month, 57% intend to consume plant-based alternatives throughout their lives and almost 20% of plant-based buyers say they follow a fully plant-based lifestyle, Acosta reported. Yet about 33% of shoppers deem plant-based foods as a fad, despite rising consumer interest and demand. Similarly, 50% of plant-based buyers polled said it’s important for restaurants to offer plant-based options, but only about 20% typically buy these alternatives when dining out.
“We expect to see steady growth in this category through the next decade, as consumer awareness continues to expand,” Risch added.