As plant-based foods continue to gain prominence in the marketplace, new research shows a promising trend for the industry: consumers that purchase plant-based foods are gradually displacing their spend in animal-based categories. Findings from the Clickstream Study and the third annual Migration Analysis – two in-depth and comprehensive reports created in collaboration with PBFA’s marketplace team and our retail data partner 84.51° – captured this exciting shift from new retail and e-commerce Kroger shopper data. 

Amid the energetic hubbub of last September’s Natural Products Expo East, the PBFA Marketplace team joined PBFA member Greenleaf Foods and 84.51° on an informative panel to present these results and dig into key findings from the reports.The panel featured PBFA’s Data and Consumer Insights Analyst, Linette Kwon; PBFA’s Associate Director of Marketplace Development, Nikki Smith;  84.51°’s Lead Insights Consultant, Shannon Weis; and Greenleaf Foods’ Director of Sales, Carolyn Geruc.  

This presentation, which is now available for download and free for PBFA members, took a closer look at shopper behavior, analyzing consumers’ plant-based purchasing patterns both in-store (via the Migration Analysis) and online (via the Clickstream Study). After a brief overview of high-level metrics pulled from our 2022 State of the Marketplace Summary Report, the panelists dove into the studies, addressing plant-based spending patterns and trends, forecasts and predictions for the future of plant-based performance in the retail sector, and next steps to overcome the challenges identified by the research. 

Top-level insights

Some standout findings included: 

  • Households that increased their dollar spend in plant-based foods generally decreased their purchased units of animal-based foods.
  • A follow-up consumer survey was administered to households that increased their dollar spend in plant-based foods and revealed that 38% are purchasing plant-based milk instead of dairy milk while 25% are purchasing plant-based meat instead of animal-based meat.
  • While health remained the top reason for consuming plant-based foods, greater variety of products and taste/flavor were also mentioned. 
  • Millennial shoppers are most engaged with plant-based foods on Kroger’s digital properties, purchasing plant-based foods 3X more on the app than on the web platform.
  • 7 out of the top 10 searched terms for plant-based foods on Kroger’s digital platform were for plant-based milk, with “almond milk” leading as the top searched term.


Despite inflation, shoppers continue to demonstrate interest in plant-based food; households that increased their dollar spend in plant-based foods decreased their purchased units of animal-based foods in tandem, and many reported that they have displaced certain animal-based foods with plant-based foods.  The diversification of the plant-based foods sector as well as industry-wide advances in innovation have led shoppers to the category for more reasons now than just health and sustainability. 

Looking forward, e-commerce platforms can tap into their unique potential in the retail marketplace and provide more options for shoppers through various methods – by offering an omnichannel solution that makes shopping for plant-based brands more convenient,  leveraging their unlimited shelf-space and lowering the barrier to entry for brands. Using founded consumer data to better understand who plant-based shoppers are, what foods they are most interested in, and their most preferred path-to-purchase, retailers and brands can work together to find opportunities to make the plant-based category  more accessible overall. 

Understanding the shopper – both in the in-store and online marketplaces – is essential to crafting your business strategy and developing a comprehensive lens through which you can contextualize the industry’s performance. The PBFA Marketplace team is excited to share that, in addition to this downloadable presentation, there will be a more detailed report to come, further equipping you with the information you need to forge your path to a sustainable and resilient marketplace strategy. 

You can download the presentation here