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Plant=based meat in supermarket
Image credit: iStock-ChayTee

Brief: US retail sales of meat alternatives continue precipitous decline

July 24, 2023

US retail sales of plant-based meat alternatives have continued to decline, falling 12.6% to $106.8 million in the five weeks ending July 2, 2023, with units down 19.8% year-over-year, according to new data from Circana (formerly IRI).*

For the year to July 2, 2023, sales fell 7.3% year-over-year to $1.1 billion, while units dropped 15.6%.

According to Anne-Marie Roerink, president at consultancy 210 Analytics: “Despite very low inflation and investment in promotions, volume sales have not been able to maintain the levels seen in the past two years.”

While sales are down across all temperature states, the biggest declines have been in the refrigerated meat case and produce department, where retailers have also been cutting their assortments, she noted. “At $34.4 million, sales levels in the five weeks ended July 2, 2023, have fallen below June 2022 levels by 21.9% and compared to June of 2021, sales were down 33.4%.”

Refrigerated volume sales (lbs), alt meat, Circana, multi-outlet data:

  • 2019: 33.4m (+38.7% year-over-year)
  • 2020: 58.8m (+76.2%)
  • 2021: 59m (+0.4%)
  • 2022: 51m -(13.6%)
  • June 2023: 4.1m -(25.1%)

Conventional meat sales are also down, but more modestly

To place this in context, dollar sales of conventional refrigerated meat fell by a more modest 2.7% year-on-year to $8.4 billion in the five weeks ending July 2, 2023, with units down 2.9%.  In the year to July 2, dollar sales edged up 1.6%, with pounds down 1.7%.

Dollar sales of frozen meat, meanwhile, fell 3.8% in the five weeks ending July 2, with units down 2.3%.

Inflationary pressures

The price per unit across all foods and beverages in the Circana-measured multi-outlet stores increased by 6.4% in the five weeks ending July 2, wells down from the double digit inflation shoppers were experiencing earlier in the year, said Roerink.

However, “the continued concern among consumers lies in the cumulative effect of inflation,” she said. “When comparing June 2023 to June 2020, prices have increased by 23.2%.”

*Circana’s point of sale data covers multi-outlet channels (grocery, mass, supercenter and club), but excludes natural channel retailers such as Whole Foods and convenience stores.

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