Plant-Based Foods See 20% Growth: Report

Study conducted by Nielsen, PBFA values category at $3.3 billion.

New data from the Plant Based Foods Association shows the plant-based foods industry has seen dollar sales growth of a whopping 20% over the past year, with sales topping $3.3 billion. 

Additionally, the data shows that “other” plant-based dairy alternatives, which excludes milks, are experiencing explosive growth, up by 50%. Last year's report showed 8% growth in the plant-based foods segment.

Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), said the plant-based foods industry has gone from being a "relatively niche market to fully mainstream," and "plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are not just for vegetarians or vegans anymore; now even mainstream consumers are enjoying these delicious and innovative options in the market today."

The report was based on a custom data set from Nielsen, which showed the total market for the plant-based food sector is up 20% in dollar sales over the past year, as compared to an increase of 2% for all foods sold in the same channel. Last year's report showed 8% growth in the plant-based foods segment. 

Additional data shows: 

  • The plant-based milk category is up 9% (compared to 3% the previous year), and makes up about half the total dollar volume, at $1.6 billion. 
  • Dollar sales of cow’s milk are down 6%. Plant-based milk makes up 15% of total milk sales. 
  • Plant-based meats are up 24% (compared to 6% the previous year), topping $670 million in sales. 
  • Plant-based creamers grew by 131%, with $109 million in sales. 
  • Plant-based cheeses grew 43%, with $124 million in sales. 
  • Plant-based yogurts are up 55%, reaching $162 million in sales. 


“The new data confirms what we are hearing and seeing every day from our members: Sales are up, investment is increasing and new jobs are being created in the plant-based foods industry,” Simon said. “It is important that regulators and legislators treat our industry fairly and the playing field for plant-based foods is level and fair at the state and national levels.” 

The data included both branded and private label products in the following categories: tofu and tempeh; meat alternatives; milk alternatives; other dairy alternatives such as cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream and creamers; egg substitutes and mayo; and meals. 


The data represents plant-based foods that directly replace animal products, including meat, seafood, eggs and dairy, as well as meals that contain direct replacements for these animal products. Within each category, both branded products and private label items were included. The market was segmented into the following categories: 

1) Tofu and tempeh

2) Meat alternatives

3) Milk alternatives

4) Other dairy alternatives: 

  • Cheese 
  • Yogurt 
  • Ice cream, novelty and frozen desserts 
  • Butter 
  • Dips, dressings and sour cream 
  • Creamers 


5) Egg substitutes and mayo

6) Meals 


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