Beyond Meat craze, demand for plant-based foods boosts meatless job market

The meatless movement is beefing up the job market.

The demand for plant-based products from the likes of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods has led to the creation of more than 55,000 jobs in the U.S., a new report from San Francisco-based Plant Based Foods Association and data firm SPINS found. 

Americans can expect to see more than 1,900 jobs added to the economy each year, the report found. And plant-based food industry jobs have an average annual income of $59,300, about $12,500 more than the average income in the U.S., the research suggests.

Retail sales of plant-based foods, such as alternative meats and dairy products like milk, eggs, ice cream and yogurt are typically made without animal products from ingredients like vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes. The market has grown 11 percent in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $4.5 billion, according to the Plant Based Foods Association. And with that, consumers can likely expect to see more jobs in sectors like manufacturing, packaging and in research and product development.

“With continued double-digit retail sales growth of plant-based foods, it is not surprising to see the continued job growth in the plant-based food industry,” Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, said in a statement.

Plant-based foods like oat milk and chickpea pasta are increasingly sprouting up at grocery stores and in meatless burgers, tacos and chicken nuggets at national fast-food chains like Burger King, White Castle, Del Toro and KFC. KFC sold out of its plant-based chicken after a one-day trial in Atlanta earlier this week and Burger King’s Impossible Whopper was such a success in its soft launch, the chain rolled out the plant-based patties nationally this month.

Beef burgers are still the most popular item on menus with 6.4 billion ordered, according to data from market research firm NPD Group, but growth has been stagnant compared to a year ago. Orders of plant-based burgers, meanwhile, have seen a 10 percent growth from a year ago, with around 228 million servings bought.

It’s proof, perhaps, that more meat-eaters are diversifying their protein options. Some 95 percent of consumers who bought a plant-based burger this year also ate meat, according to NPD Group data.