Plant-based cheese by numbers: Small declines in dollars and units overall, but big variations within category

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image credits clockwise from top left: Violife, Elaine Watson, Danone North America, Daiya Foods, and Danone North America
Image credits clockwise from top left: Violife, Elaine Watson, Danone North America, Daiya Foods, and Danone North America

Related tags: Futureproofing the food system, Dairy alternatives, dairy free, plant-based cheese, non dairy cheese, animal-free dairy, Unmetered

SPINS data shared with FoodNavigator-USA ahead of our Futureproofing the Food System virtual summit (Nov 15-17) shows a mixed picture for US retail sales of plant-based cheese, with overall dollar sales down -2.3% to $218.94m and unit sales down -3.6% in the 52 weeks to September 4, 2022, reflecting sharp declines in some areas and sharp increases in others.

The figures combine SPINS multi-outlet (MULO) channel data powered by IRI covering food, drug and mass stores; and SPINS natural enhanced channel data, which includes co-ops, associations, independents, and large regional chains, but excludes some key players such as Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s. They do not cover convenience stores or foodservice sales.

SPINS: 52 weeks to Sept 4, 2022

Total refrigerated plant-based cheese​: dollars -2.3% to $218.94m, units -3.5%

  • Shredded and grated: ​dollars +1.8% to $104.79m, units +0.7% (within this segment, Cheddar and Mozzarella declined double digits, but Parmesan and Mexican blends were up significantly).
  • Sliced and snack: ​dollars -5.8% to $86.73m, units -7% (within this segment, Cheddar, American and Provolone declined, but Gouda was up).
  • Blocks, tubs, wheels etc: ​dollars -6.1% to $27.43m, units -10.3% (within this segment, Cheddar declined, but soft flavored cheese, feta, and mozzarella were up).

SPINS: 12 weeks to Sept 4, 2022

Total refrigerated plant-based cheese​: dollars -3.8% to $48.54m, units -6.5%

  • Shredded and grated: ​dollars +3.8% to $23.1m, units +1.8%
  • Sliced and snack: ​dollars -11.3% to $19.11m, units -13.9%
  • Blocks, tubs, wheels etc: ​dollars -4.9% to $6.34m, units -12.4%

Dairy 2.0?

So what does all this mean for the future of the category? Do inflation and looming recession explain the slowdown, or has the market started to approach some kind of natural ceiling?

What will it take to reach ‘fair weather’ plant-based consumers, who are open to alternatives, but only if the price is right, and the even larger group of consumers that have thus far not considered dairy alternatives at all?

Find out in the opening segment of our upcoming Futureproofing the Food System virtual summit, which features a panel dedicated to answering these questions featuring category luminary Miyoko Schinner, and Matt Gibson from New Culture, who plays in the emerging ‘animal-free’ dairy cheese segment.

MORNING SESSION: ​Sustainable Sourcing for Colors, Flavors, and Sweeteners; and plotting a future for dairy… without cows (11am- 12.45pm Central time​, Tues November 15)

Register HERE

PANEL: Biosynthesis: Fermentation and the future of flavors, colors and sweeteners ​​Does it always make sense to extract flavors, colors, sweeteners and other food ingredients from plants if you can produce them more efficiently - and more sustainably – via microbial fermentation, ‘cell-free’ approaches or plant cell culture?

  • Dr Joshua Britton, ​​founder and CEO, Debut Biotech  ​​
  • Nusqe Spanton, ​​founder and CEO, Provectus Algae​​
  • Dr David Welch, ​​CSO and co-founder, Synthesis Capital​​
  • Ricky Cassini, ​​CEO and co-founder, Michroma​​
  • Dr Erin Marasco, ​​global biology lead, Cargill
  • MODERATOR​: Elaine Watson, senior editor, FoodNavigator-USA​

PANEL: Dairy 2.0​​: Plant-based milks now account for more than 15% of the fluid milk market, while plant-based cheese, creamers, yogurts and ice cream continue to gain traction. So where is the market going next, where’s the white space in the category, and what is the potential of a new wave of ‘animal-free dairy’ products made with real milk proteins and fats, minus the cows?

  • Miyoko Schinner, ​​founder and CEO, Miyoko’s Creamery   ​​
  • Dave Ritterbush, ​​CEO, Califia Farms   ​​
  • Matt Gibson, ​​co-founder and CEO, New Culture​​
  • Sonia Huppert,​​ global innovation marketing leader, re-imagine protein, IFF
  • MODERATOR​: Elaine Watson, senior editor, FoodNavigator-USA​

To find out more about this FREE event​​, ​​which is sponsored by EpiCor postbiotic (Cargill)​​​, IFF​​​, Ingredion​​​, Cargill​​​, and FoodBytes! By Rabobank​​​, Amano Enzyme​​​, Evergrain (ABInBev)​​​, Spoonshot​​​, and Exberry by GNT​​,​​ and supported by Oat Vita​​​, click on the links below:

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