The new data, released from Nielsen and commissioned by The Good Food Institute (GFI), showed that total sales topped US$3.7bn. This is compared to total retail food sales that grew by just 2% during the same time period, it said.
Plant-based meat sales increased 23% in the past year, with the US retail market now worth $684m.
The top five plant-based meat brands by total sales were Morningstar Farms, Gardein, Lightlife, Beyond Meat and Boca. The fastest-growing plant-based meat brand was Beyond Meat, with sales up 70%, followed by Field Roast (+68%), Gardein (+51%), Dr Praeger’s (+44%), and Quorn (+31%).
“As consumers look to decrease their meat consumption, more and more people are choosing plant-based meats,” said Alison Rabschnuk, GFI’s director of corporate engagement.
“In fact, 12% of households across the US now purchase plant-based meat. That’s an estimated 14.7m households, which is a significant increase from last year, and I expect we’ll see that trend continue.”
Plant-based milk is now sold in 89% of all retail outlets and commands 13% of total retail milk sales nationally.
GFI said the plant-based meat category was in a similar position to where milk was about 10 years ago.
Caroline Bushnell, senior marketing manager at GFI, said: “As it follows that trajectory, reaching share of market parity with plant-based milk would make the retail plant-based meat category worth almost $10bn.”
The data covers retail sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products, including meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy, as well as meals that contain direct animal ingredient replacements. The data was obtained over the 52-week period ending 11 August 2018 from Nielsen.