20210723_Plant_Based_Food_IBT Sales of plant-based dairy and meat alternatives in the U.S. in 2020 Photo: Statista/IBT

Having long been limited to a handful of mostly soy-based products, plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat have made giant leaps forward over the past few years. Thanks to advances in food science, people can now enjoy a creamy oat milk cappuccino, have a tasty burger based on pea protein or even try chicken-free chicken nuggets that mimic the real thing surprisingly well.

And whether it’s due to allergies, intolerances, voluntary diet choices or simply to reduce the carbon footprint of their food intake, many people are enjoying the new variety of plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat. Companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Oatly have reached billion-dollar valuations thanks to their strong positions in what many experts consider one of the most promising future growth markets.

According to research conducted by SPINS on behalf of the Plant Based Foods Association and the Good Food Institute, plant-based foods are already a multi-billion dollar market in the United States, seeing high double-digit sales growth in many categories in 2020. With total sales of $2.5 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, plant-based milk and meat alternatives are the largest segment within the $7 billion plant-based food market.

“2020 was a breakout year for plant-based foods,” Kyle Gaan, analyst for the Good Food Institute, said. “The incredible growth we saw in plant-based foods overall, particularly plant-based meat, surpassed our expectations and is a clear sign of where consumer appetites are heading.”