Sustainably-marketed products accounted for 50% of consumer packaged goods (CPG) growth from 2013 to 2018, according to NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business.

Further, products with sustainability claims on-package accounted for 16.6% of the total CPG market in 2018, delivering nearly $113.9 billion in sales and growing 5.6 times faster than their conventional equivalents. As for that sales number? It’s predicted to grow to a staggering $140.5 billion by 2023.
Successful sustainable food categories
NYU researchers also determined which food categories held the largest share of sustainably-marketed products.

Here’s the breakdown:

< 5% Share
Carbonated Drinks
Energy Drinks
Pet Food
Pet Treats
Cookies
Chocolate
Candy

5%- 18% Share
Soup
Cereal

> 18% Share
Crackers
Natural cheese
Fresh bread
Salty snacks
Bottled juices
Coffee
Milk
Yogurt


The future of CPGs

The future of the CPG space, this Harvard Business Review article notes, is indeed sustainable. To carve out space in the sustainable goods arena, brands should take heed of these two pieces of advice offered in the HBR article: 

  • An attitude of “Why mess with a recipe that has worked well over the last 40 years?” is the wrong one to take.
  • Corporate leadership should no longer give brand managers a pass when they claim that there is no demand for sustainable products.

All of these findings — especially sales projections — are consistent with other recent reports, like IRI’s Early View 2019: Food & Beverage Trends and Nielsen data from late 2018. It’s not hard to find the proof that sustainability is a growing space in the food industry in the headlines, either. 

Here are some stories of food industry giants that are pulling ahead of the pack: 

And some commentary on startups poised to make a splash: