US – Plant-based meat volumes across all channels; retail, out-of-home, and e-commerce in the US declined by 4% in 2022, according to the Global Food Institute report (GFI).

In the same year, the plant-based meat category had a sales rise of 2% despite the shrinking in volumes due to inflation pressures. The average price per unit for plant-based meats rose 8%, compared to 12% for animal proteins.

GFI report shows that the sales of plant-based meat at the retail fell by 1% to US$1.37bn in 2022, with unit sales down 8%.  

The report adds that in the US, meat-free retail sales across chilled and frozen products have been relatively flat, but verging on the slightly weaker side, each year since 2020, when they grew to US$1.4bn from US$954m in 2019.

Despite the 2% growth in 2022, growth cooled from 6% and 22% in the previous two years with the total US market showing different trends across the channels.

The fluctuation could be related to the distortion from the previous Covid-19 pandemic which was followed by high prices in the inflationary environment.

GFI also suggests that consumers are looking for alternatives for various meat products to plant-based meat products.

Another study by the US-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI) trading association, cited by GFI in its report, identifies taste as key when it comes to consumers wanting to try meat or dairy alternatives or those returning to the category.

“The plant-based category has further opportunities to improve consumer engagement via focusing on improving taste parity and affordability, as well as effectively messaging consumer benefits, including health,” GFI noted.

For those who had not dabbled, 51% were put off by taste in meat-free products and 49% for plant-based dairy, even though they had not tried them before. In terms of repeat rates, the figures were 46% to 50%.

With respect to cost, it was 25% to 23% for those who had not tried meat- and dairy-free respectively and 30% to 32% for those who had.

Pockets of growth in the plant-based meat category are centered on the newly launched products in more nascent sub-categories such as plant-based chicken, seafood, and jerky.’

“Total distribution points in plant-based meats were ‘slightly up’ last year due to a greater assortment of products such as frozen breakfast meals and nuggets, tenders, and wings,” GFI said.

However, distribution points were down in areas like frozen minced beef and chilled and frozen burgers given that stores had limited shelf space.

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