Pandemic has provided a sharp boost for plant-based foods, Instacart survey shows

Dive Brief:

  • Thirty percent of shoppers who participated in a survey commissioned by Instacart about grocery-shopping habits adopted during the pandemic intend to continue preparing meals with plant-based products, the e-commerce provider reported Tuesday.
  • Sales of plant-based meat grew 42% in 2020 on Instacart compared with 2019, and the adoption rate for plant-based milk was up 27% last year.
  • Instacart is seeing more shoppers opt for plant-based products at the same time that grocers are paying increasing attention to the category.

Dive Insight:

The search terms used by Instacart shoppers underscore the rising popularity of foods that used plant-based ingredients as substitutes for components derived from animals.

The e-commerce provider saw a sharp increase in searches that include terms such as “plant-based,” “meatless,” and “vegetarian” during 2020, and that trend has accelerated this year, according to Instacart. “Vegan” has been especially popular.

Almond milk is the most popular first-time plant-based purchase for Instacart shoppers, followed by dairy-free cheese, according to the company. Tofu and veggie burgers were tied for third place. 

More than a third of Instacart shoppers who opted to buy plant-based meat or milk are between the ages of 30 and 39, with oat milk primarily appealing to people under 35. People who buy soy milk, on the other hand, tend to be older.

Instacart found that people who buy only plant-based ground-meat alternatives are more likely than shoppers who buy only conventional ground beef or other meat to also buy other products associated with healthy eating habits, such as energy supplements, nut butters and grains, Instacart said. Conversely, shoppers who buy only animal-based ground meat are substantially more likely to also purchase processed foods like gravy mixes, canned pasta, donuts and pastry doughs, figures from the company show.

Courtesy of Instacart 

Notably, a large share of Instacart shoppers who purchased plant-based products also put animal-derived foods in their carts. Forty-three percent of the people who make purchases on the platform buy both plant-based and conventional meat.

Impossible Foods, Alpha Foods and Franklin Farms were the fastest-growing plant-based meat brands on the Instacart platform last year, while Laird Superfood, Simply and Nutpods captured the most interest among people shopping for plant-based milk, the e-commerce provider said. 

The online survey was conducted for Instacart by The Harris Poll, which collected responses between Feb. 25 and March 1 from 2,038 U.S. adults 18 or older.

Retailers are responding to growing consumer interest in buying plant-based products. Earlier this month, Target added a plant-based product line to its Good & Gather private label brand that will include meal alternatives, plant-based dips and other items. In October, Kroger expanded its Simple Truth Plant Based product line with more than 50 new products.

Original Article by: Sam Silverstein, The Grocery Dive

News Food