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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Sales of Vegetable-Based Meat Substitutes Falling


According to research firm Circana representing the merger of IRI and NPD, volume sales and dollar value for plant-based alternatives to meat fell by 20 percent for the 52 weeks ending July 1st, 2023. This reality is reflected in the sales and volume data posted by Beyond Meat and for the Plant Protein segment of Maple Leaf Foods.


Factors mitigating against consumption include inferior organoleptic quality as perceived by consumers; higher price relative to real meat; restricted range of products available; complicated labels denoting the extent of processing including additives. Consumer curiosity drove sales after the initial introduction of products but peaked in 2020.  Sales were in part maintained during the COVID period by relative shortages and consequential high prices for pork and beef.  Since restoration of production, consumers have returned to traditional purchase patterns.


In an attempt to stimulate sales, the plant-based industry is promoting products emphasizing “health” although there is no scientific justification for these claims.  It is becoming apparent that the non-quantifiable welfare and sustainability attributes of plant-based meat substitutes are discounted by consumers especially when faced with large price differentials at check-out.


The customer base for plant-based meat substitutes will include vegetarians and a growing number of flexitarians but these demographics will be unable to move the needle. During 2022 beef sales attained $29.5 billion with ground beef representing 60 percent of the total. In contrast sales of all plant-based meat substitutes amounted to $1.4 billion At the end of the day plant alternatives represent an insignificant proportion of the total meat market with a sharp decline in sales volume and value in 2022 compared to the upward trajectory in pre-COVID years.

Copyright © 2023 Simon M. Shane