WASHINGTON – Sales of plant-based milks in the United States rose 4% in 2021 and reached $2.6 billion, according to sales data from the market researcher SPINS. The alternative beverages now account for 16% of all retail milk dollar sales. Almond milk is the leader, accounting for 59% of the total alternatives category, and oat milk is the second-largest segment, making up 17% of category sales, up from 0.5% in 2018.

The SPINS data also shows a ripple effect as sales of plant-based dairy products like ready-to-drink beverages and creamers reached $2.1 billion in 2021. Plant-based creamers have a 9% share of all creamers sold in the country. Additionally, plant-based yogurt dollar sales grew 9% during the year and now have a 4.5% category dollar share.

Overall, US retail sales of plant-based foods grew 6.2% in 2021 and reached a market value of $7.4 billion, according to SPINS. 

“The sustained rise in the market share of plant-based foods is remarkable and makes it clear that this shift is here to stay,” said Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships for the Plant Based Foods Association, which, along with The Good Food Institute, commissioned the market research. “More and more consumers are turning to plant-based options that align with their values and desire to have a positive impact on personal and planetary health. The data shows that, despite the challenges of the past two years, retailers and foodservice providers are meeting consumers where they are by partnering with brands across the entire store to expand space, increase assortment, and make it easier than ever to find and purchase plant-based foods.”

Sales of plant-based meats reached $1.4 billion during 2021, flat when compared to 2020, and in line with comments from manufacturers like Maple Leaf Foods, Inc., Toronto, and Beyond Meat, Inc., El Segundo, Calif., that have said category sales have slowed.

Plant-based burgers continue to lead the alternative meat category, but meatballs, nuggets, tenders, cutlets and deli slices were the fastest growing product applications during the year. Plant-based seafood sales reached $14 million, up 14% over 2020.

Sixty-two percent of US households are now buying plant-based products, according to SPINS, a tick up from 61% in 2020.