‘The addressable market may be more limited than many thought,’ says Deloitte

Sales of plant-based meat alternatives surged by 45% in 2020 pushing the category past the billion-dollar mark, according to US retail data from the Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association.

In 2021, sales were flat. And 2022 is proving to be a challenging year so far with dollar sales flat at -0.9% and units down -7.2% in August 2022 vs. August 2021, according to IRI data crunched by 210 Analytics. The downturn was more drastic for refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives (vs. frozen), which experienced double-digit declines in both dollar sales and volumes during the same time period. 

While uncontrollable factors such as continued supply chain issues and a tough comparison with record sales from the previous two years are partly to blame for the downturn, Deloitte found that a shift in consumer sentiment around plant-based meat alternatives is becoming an increasingly significant factor.

Appeal wears off

“The addressable market may be more limited than many thought,”​ said Deloitte in its recent report​. 

For some time, the appeal of the plant-based meat category seemed to be winning over meat-eating consumers looking to reduce their meat consumption, or at the very least, intrigued by the notion of a burger that tasted like real beef. But that excitement appears to be wearing off, according to Deloitte’s research into consumer sentiment around plant-based meat alternatives.

“Dramatically improved taste in recent years (vouched for by seven in 10 consumers) unlocked new interest in PBA (plant-based alternative) meat. But the portion of the US population open to trying (and repeat buying) may already have reached a saturation point,”​ claimed Deloitte in its report.

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