U.S. consumers remain interested in plant-based meat alternatives, but higher prices have led many prospective return consumers to taper off their purchases. Plant-based meats are often several dollars a pound higher than equivalent meat and poultry products.
Beyond cost, lingering negative perceptions surrounding taste, value and versatility are also obstacles the category has yet to overcome. According to a new report from CoBank, the market for plant-based meats has likely reached a tipping point as the initial period of exceptional sales growth appears to be over. Plant-based meat sales peaked in 2020 when consumers had more discretionary income and were curious about broadening their food spend in the wake of pandemic-era food shortages.
But fewer than half of Americans who tried the products at the time repeated their purchase. Sales of meat alternatives have fallen steadily since 2021 and more sharply over the last year. Volume sales dropped 20.9 percent for the 52-week period ending July 2, 2023.