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Sales of Plant-Based Foods Grow Sharply as Regulators Dig In On Labels

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August 4, 2018

Star Tribune

Plant-based sources of protein are becoming mainstream foods.

Sales of plant-based foods grew 10 times faster than their animal-based counterparts last year, reflecting the growing popularity and prevalence of alternative protein sources in U.S. grocery stores and restaurants.

The data, compiled by Nielsen and published by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), looks specifically at plant-based foods that directly replace animal products such as seafood, meat, eggs and dairy. The report shows rapid expansion within these grocery-store segments at a time when federal regulators are revisiting how to categorize these foods based on consumer expectations …

And Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods Corp. now offers a plant-based protein-shake product under the Evolve brand.

At $1.6 billion, milk alternatives, such as soy or almond, account for about half of all plant-based sales, which topped $3.3 billion last year.

With a seemingly endless stream of new sources — such as oats, hemp or peas — plant-based milks grew another 9 percent last year and now constitute 15 percent of all milk sales. By contrast, traditional cow’s milk sales were down 6 percent last year, spurring the dairy industry to seek intervention from U.S. Food and Drug Administration.