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As you stood in the long lines at the grocery store—six feet apart hopefully—last week, you may have wondered what everyone is stalking up on. Well, the two items that had the largest surge in sales were plant-based meat and oat milk according to data in a report released last week by Nielsen. The study shows what items in each food category saw the largest increase in purchases amid coronavirus quarantine shopping.

Plant-based meat purchases increased by 279.8% (compared against the same week last year). In comparison, fresh chicken sales grew by 51% over the same time period. Oat milk showed the highest growth with a whopping 476.7% (while dairy milk saw a 34% increase over the same period). Both oat milk and plant-based meats had the highest growth rate in every category.

Dried beans, rice, black beans and chickpeas were in the top food items in the “dry food” category all making double-digit gains—all of these, by the way, can be used to make a plethora of delicious vegan dishes. Check out these creative canned bean recipes.

Plant-based foods are popular, even before the pandemic

Purchases of plant-based meats, oat milks and plant-based foods, in general, have been on a steady rise over the last several years. A report from the Good Food Institute early this year showed that vegan eggs, creamer and yogurt witnessed the highest growth in 2019. “Clearly plant-based is a lasting trend that is gaining power over time,” said Good Food Institute’s associate director of corporate engagement Caroline Bushnell regarding their general food-growth study released early this year. “From the data, we see a steady rise in plant-based products year-over-year across regions, which indicates that this is not a bubble or a fad, but a real change in consumer behavior. This is a tipping point and there is so much product innovation yet to hit the market, well beyond the burger.”

This “real change in consumer behavior” is only amplified in times of panic where we see in a short period of time what people deem as essential and stock up on. Clearly, plant-based meats and oat milk are not just favorites, but also essentials.

Panic buying is happening, but supply chains are still functioning

It’s not uncommon for people to stockpile in times of crisis; however, typically those crises are more geographic-based, not reaching across the entire country at once. Despite that, experts say the supply chain is still functioning, so even if your favorite oat milk or plant-based burger might be sold out now, hang in there, it’s likely to be back on the shelf soon.

The Most Popular Grocery Items During Pandemic are Vegan
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