Plant-based food sales outpaced total food sales during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic according to data released today by trade group Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and market research company SPINS. During mid-March—the peak of food-buying during the pandemic—sales of plant-based foods increased by 90 percent when compared to sales during the same time last year. In the four weeks that followed, plant-based food sales spiked by 27 percent, outpacing total retail food sales by 35 percent. This new data shows that consumers are turning to plant-based food options now more than ever,” Julie Emmett, Senior Director of Retail Partnerships at PBFA, said. “Even after the highest panic-buying period, plant-based foods growth remains strong, proving that this industry has staying power.” 

When broken down by category, vegan meat sales spiked by 50 percent during the peak-buying period in March and continued to grow by 61 percent in the next four weeks, representing a growth rate that is twice as fast as animal-based meat. The sales spike was most pronounced in the refrigerated meat category, where sales increased by 241 percent (compared to last year) in mid-March and continued to grow by 113 percent through April. “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,” SPINS Owner and CEO Tony Olson said. “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.” 

Other categories exhibited strong sales, as well, including vegan cheese (which increased by 95 percent during the peak buying period when compared to sales during the same time last year and continued to grow by 54 percent in the four weeks thereafter); and tofu and tempeh (a category that grew by 88 percent (compared to last year’s data) during the pandemic peak-buying period and continued to grow by 35 percent for the following four weeks. “These strong numbers prove that the plant-based industry is here to stay and will only continue to grow,” PBFA Executive Director Michele Simon said. “PBFA members and their staff are working hard to provide consumers with nourishing foods during these difficult times and beyond.”