Plant-Based Meat Deceleration Signals Niche Future


Grace Garwood, The Food Institute

Oct 8, 2021


Plant-based meat sales in restaurants and retail are beginning to plateau following a meteoric rise throughout the pandemic period, while traditional meat engagement remains strong.


Data and supporting analyst insights from IRI suggest that this trend is likely to continue, as key category consumers prioritize protein diversity coupled with plant-forward eating.


Plant-based meat alternatives are still below 10% household penetration on the retail side, Anne-Marie Roerink, President of 210 Analytics, noted in a recent IRI webinar exploring refrigerated meat department alternatives in the first half of 2021.


“There’s going to be some continued trial, but much like the organic and grass-fed markets, I think we’re going to ultimately see this become a nice niche offering,” said Roerink.


Sectors Slowdown


In the restaurant space, orders of plant-based burgers and sandwiches at fast-food establishments were unchanged for the year ended in June, while beef burger orders climbed 12% over the same period, according to market researcher NPD Group Inc.


As Bloomberg reported, some of the fast-food chains that introduced plant-based versions of their menu items are stalling in trials, while others, like Dunkin’ Donuts, have pulled alt-meat offerings entirely (Sept 24).


IRI data for the 52-week period ending September 19 reveals a similar slippage in the grocery store.


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