Shipments of plant-based proteins from distributors to commercial restaurants in April showed a 60% increase over 2020 figures, according to the NPD Group.

The large increase is partly due to the decline in shipments brought on by the pandemic in 2020, but even compared to pre-pandemic shipments in 2019, plant-based protein shipments were up 16% this year.

Plant-based beef alternatives, which make up the largest portion of plant-based protein shipments, increased by 45% compared to April of last year and increased by 82% compared to April 2019.

Chicken substitute shipments grew by 82% in April 2021 compared to last year and grew by 25% compared to two years ago.

Fish plant-based analogue shipments increased by 181% this month in comparison to 2020 and by 78% compared to 2019, although it is only a small portion of the plant-based protein market.

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Classic plant-based proteins, like tempeh, tofu, nuts, grains, and vegetables, also showed strong growth in April according to the NPD Group’s data.

“There has been a lot of public discussion about plant-based beef and meat substitutes, and whether or not plant-based is a fad or a trend,” Tim Fires, president of NPD’s SupplyTrack, said in a statement. “But the fact of the matter is, chefs and operators see the plant-based protein category as a flexible option for developing recipes and menu offerings that taste good, and their guests enjoy. Plant-based is now a staple in their repertoire.”

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