Plant-Based Protein Shipments to U.S. Restaurants and Foodservice Outlets Grew by 60% in April

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Shipments of plant-based proteins from foodservice distributors to commercial restaurants increased by +60% in April 2021 compared to the same month a year ago, when the category realized declines because of pandemic restrictions, according to The NPD Group.

"Chefs and operators see the plant-based protein category as a flexible option for developing recipes and menu offerings that taste good and their guests enjoy. Plant-based is now a staple in their repertoire,” says Tim Fires, president of NPD's SupplyTrack.

As pandemic-related restaurant restrictions lift across the U.S., chefs and foodservice operators are refreshing their menu offerings and recipes. Plant-based proteins are one of the food categories they’re using to help update, reports The NPD Group. Shipments of plant-based proteins from foodservice distributors to commercial restaurants increased by +60% in April 2021 compared to the same month a year ago, when the category realized declines because of pandemic restrictions. Shipments are up +16% compared to April 2019, according to NPD’s SupplyTrack®, which tracks every product shipped from leading distributors to more than 700,000 U.S. foodservice operators, capturing detail on over 80% of the broadline foodservice sales channel.    

Plant-based beef analogues, which represent the largest share of plant-based protein shipments, increased pounds shipped by +45% in April 2021 compared to same month year ago, and +82% compared to two years ago. Chicken plant-based analogues, a more recent category than beef analogues, grew by +82% in April 2021 compared to April 2020 and +25% compared to April 2019. Another more recent entry is fish analogues, which grew by +181% in April compared to a year ago, and 78% compared to two years ago, although still a small category. Classic plant-based proteins, like grains, nuts, vegetables, tofu, and tempeh, also experienced substantial growth in April, finds NPD.    

“There has been a lot of public discussion about plant-based beef and meat substitutes, and whether or not plant-based is a fad or a trend,” says Tim Fires, president of NPD’s SupplyTrack. “But the fact of the matter is, chefs and operators, see the plant-based protein category as a flexible option for developing recipes and menu offerings that taste good, and their guests enjoy. Plant-based is now a staple in their repertoire.”
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About The NPD Group
NPD offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help our clients grow their businesses in a changing world. Over 2,000 companies worldwide rely on us to help them measure, predict, and improve performance across all channels, including brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, and B2B. We have services in 19 countries worldwide, with operations spanning the Americas, Europe, and APAC. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, B2B technology, consumer technology, e-commerce, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, home improvement, juvenile products, media entertainment, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, toys, and video games. For more information, visit npd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup.

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