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Global sales of plant-based alternative meat and dairy could increase to $162 billion in 2030, up from $29.4 billion in 2020, according to Plant-Based Foods Poised for Explosive Growth, a new report from Bloomberg. The company expects sales growth of plant-based alternatives “will outpace conventional products, supported by innovation, increased production capacity, lower retail prices, distribution gains, and consumer acceptance.”

The expected $162 billion represents 7.7% of the anticipated $2.1 trillion global protein market. Plant-based meat and fish could reach 5% ($74 billion) of the total protein market, while alternative dairy hits $62 billion. Other plant-based products — dressings, condiments, and eggs — make up the rest of the projected growth (from $2.3 billion in 2020 to almost $26 billion in 2030).

Although Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have driven the plant-based meat market, traditional companies — such as Tyson, Kellogg, Conagra, Kraft Heinz, Hormel, and Nestle — have entered the market and can use their existing manufacturing and distribution to scale sales. This increasing competition will drive consumer interest and bring down prices, which is a key to sustained growth. This growth will come primarily from flexitarians and shoppers who want to occasionally replace meat proteins with something perceived as healthier.

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Two other factors support sales growth. First, restaurants and other foodservice companies that offer plant-based options give customers the chance to try them and potentially influence at-home consumption. Second, retail stores placing products in the meat section puts them on a more level playing field with meat.

In terms of consumer acceptance, plant-based dairy is ahead of meat. Alternative dairy could become 10% of the total dairy market by 2030, up from 4.5% in 2020. Alternative milks comprise the largest part of this market, making up 75% of sales. However, alternatives in ice cream, cheese, sour cream, and butter are growing as consumers focus on health and sustainability. This growth is also supported by the 75% of the world population who are lactose intolerant.

Although the U.S. has lower rates (15–30%) of lactose intolerance, many people perceive plant-based as a healthier option. Plus, sustainability concerns support increasing sales of plant-based dairy, as they carry the perception of having less environmental impact than cow’s milk.

Bloomberg projections represent the company’s most likely scenario. In a best-case situation, the drivers of plant-based meats are stronger, and sales could reach $118 billion (rather than $74 billion). A worst-case scenario sees sales limited by regulatory issues and supply constraints and hitting only $37 billion.

Similarly, stronger-than-anticipated drivers could push sales of plant-based dairy to $81 billion (rather than $62 billion). In contrast, lower-than-expected adoption or limited appeal of these products could limit sales to about $50 billion.

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