New data shows panic-buying during the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a major jump in U.S. vegan food sales.
The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), a trade organization that represents top vegan food brands, and retail analytics firm SPINS produced the data.
In the 16 weeks leading up to April 19, sales of plant-based meats, cheeses, tempeh, and tofu outpaced total food sales. Compared with the same period in 2019, vegan food sales jumped 90 percent.
Following March 8 to March 29, the peak panic-buying period, plant-based food sales grew 27 percent. This was 35 percent faster than total retail food sales.
Plant-based meat sales were 50 percent higher during the peak-panic buying period than animal-based meat sales. For the four weeks following, animal-based meat sales declined, but plant-based meat sales grew at a rate of 61 percent.
Dairy-free cheese sales were up 95 percent compared with 2019 during the peak panic-buying period. In the four weeks following, they were up 54 percent.
Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at PBFA, said in a statement: “This new data shows that consumers are turning to plant-based food options now more than ever. Even after the highest panic-buying period, plant-based foods growth remains strong, proving that this industry has staying power.”
Vegan Meat Gains ‘Even More Traction’ As Meat Industry Struggles
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the meat industry significantly. Nearly half of the U.S’s coronavirus hotspots are linked to slaughterhouses. More than 10,000 slaughterhouse workers have been infected or exposed to the coronavirus.
Due to outbreaks of the virus, many slaughterhouses shut down, but President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing them to reopen. Many are now operating at a reduced capacity.
Tony Olson, the CEO of SPINS, believes meat shortages will motivate more people to choose vegan meat options.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a continued shift in consumer purchasing toward natural and organic products that enhance health and immunity,” he said in a statement.
He continued: “Our data shows the plant-based meat boom of last year continues and, as reports of animal-based meat shortages increase, we can expect plant-based meat to gain even more traction.“