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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.

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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