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The State of Plant-Based: Growth and Opportunity Across the Retail Store


The plant-based food sector continues to burgeon, presenting retailers with unprecedented growth and revenue opportunities. A recent session titled “The State of Plant Based” at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim on March 15 shed light on the evolving landscape of plant-based foods. With insights rooted in comprehensive data, the session emphasized the significance of this market segment for retailers aiming to capitalize on the trend.

One of the standout revelations from the session was the spending power of plant-based shoppers, who, on average, spend 2.3 times more than the average shopper. This demographic, driven by younger generations coming into increased spending power, represents the big-money baskets that retailers can no longer afford to overlook. Furthermore, the plant-based category is innovating at 1.5 times the rate of other food categories, introducing new products at a rapid pace. This innovation rate underscores the importance for retailers to stay abreast of consumer preferences and demands to identify which products are genuinely meeting consumer needs.

Jay Margolis, CEO of SPINS, provided an optimistic outlook on the category’s trajectory, stating, “We can see now that if you look at the data based on growth from 2016-2019, we are right where we are supposed to be as a category in 2024.” This affirmation of the plant-based sector’s robust growth trajectory offers retailers confidence in the enduring appeal and expansion of plant-based foods.

Simon Cutts, Sr. Director of Retail Partnerships at SPINS, highlighted a critical strategy for retailers to maximize their gains from the plant-based trend. “The biggest opportunity for retailers is understanding the full dollar value of the plant-based category,” Cutts explained. He emphasized the importance of offering a comprehensive range of plant-based products—not just the main items like burgers but also complementary products such as buns, condiments, and sliced cheese. This holistic approach allows retailers to capture a more significant share of consumer spending within the plant-based category.

The session underscored the need for retailers to develop a fresh, data-backed perspective on the plant-based food trend. By recognizing the substantial spending power of plant-based shoppers and the category’s rapid innovation rate, retailers can ensure they are well-positioned to meet consumer needs and preferences. By seizing the opportunities presented by the plant-based category, from main dishes to ancillary products, retailers who can see the bigger picture and adapt accordingly will find themselves at the forefront of this lucrative market.