Shift in Market, Lifestyle Choices Drives Strong Sales for Bars, Cereals
Initial 2013 soyfoods sales figures have been calculated and we’re seeing America’s fascination with protein translate into strong growth in categories such as food and energy bars, cold cereals and snacks with soy protein. New product innovations with protein ingredients fill consumer demand for low saturated fat and cholesterol free beverages and for complete, plant-based protein that is sustainable.
The U.S. retail soyfoods industry totaled $4.5 billion in 2013, up from $1 billion just 17 years ago, according to sales data and forecast models conducted by Katahdin Ventures. Dramatic growth followed the FDA approval in 1999 of a health claim linking soy with heart disease reduction, when consumers began to seek out soyfoods for both health and philosophical reasons. Strong demand for soyfoods coincides with survey results that find more than 75 percent of consumers perceive soy products as healthy, according to the United Soybean Board 2013 Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition report (pdf).
“We’re seeing certain segments of the soyfoods market really excel as consumers seek out quick, affordable, and easy ways to get more protein — especially complete protein from a plant source that also provides other nutrients such as calcium, potassium and fiber,” said Soyfoods Association of North America Executive Director Nancy Chapman, RD. “Demand for traditional soyfoods remains steady, but consumers are seeking ideas for nutritious meals and fun new ways to use them more often. Our Pinterest boards present hundreds of recipes for the spectrum of soyfoods.”
Consumers are not only becoming more conscious of what they are eating, they are also becoming more adventurous with their palate, trying new ingredients, better-for-you products, plant-based foods, and international cuisine, which should help the soyfoods market steadily grow in future years.
Here are top-level findings from the 2013 sales data analysis:
- Sales were led by the food bar category ($1.6 billion), which experienced rapid growth (17 percent CAGR since 2011) as did the overall snack bar category. Increased sales of bars with soy protein reflect the current national fascination with protein and meal replacements. Cereals (mostly cold cereals) with soy protein found breakout success in 2013 with a climb of 20.5 percent CAGR between 2011 and 2013 to $201 million, and soy-containing snacks experienced similar growth (24 percent CAGR since 2011) to $85 million on the back of the same trend.
- Edamame continued its strong growth trend, up 9 percent to $84 million in 2013, as consumers chose this young soybean as a fun appetizer or snack and added it to salads, stir-fries and hummus.
- Condiments climbed 6 percent over 2012 to $292 million. The largest segment, soy sauce, is pacing the group with 6.8 percent growth. Miso has also found its way onto mainstream grocery shelves and restaurant menus in dressings, marinades, glazes and soups.
- Tofu sales continued a mature growth path, up about 1 percent to $274 million, including foodservice sales.
- Meat alternatives and other vegetarian entrees and meals, which are the second largest category of total soy sales, decreased slightly by 1 percent to $776 million after several years of slow growth.
- As a slew of new non-dairy white beverages came onto the market and advertising dollars shifted to the entrants, sales of soymilk beverages ($638 million) fell, down 8.5 percent from 2012. New nut, grain and seed beverages grab the interest of consumers, but offer far less nutritional value — soymilk has about 7 grams per 8-ounce serving of the only plant-based complete protein that has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease; almond, coconut and rice beverages all average 1 gram of protein. Beverages including soy (excluding soymilk) are a bright spot in this picture, increasing by 12.5 percent CAGR in the two years since 2011 to a 2013 total of $210.5 million.
- Among dairy alternatives, soy spreads ($40.8 million) and soy creamer ($32.8 million) edged up slightly. Soy yogurt ($29.6 million) had a uniquely challenging year with the industry leader temporarily shutting down production, but the brand returned to shelves in 2014 with strong sales.
Based on the Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition survey, 28 percent of Americans consumed soyfoods or soy beverages once a week or more in 2013 compared to 19 percent in 2006. Currently, 42 percent of Americans consume soyfoods at least once a month.