The volume of plant-based meat alternatives sold through US retail outlets slipped 4.3 percent in March, according to recently released data from IRI and analyzed by Texas-based market research firm 210 Analytics.

The performance of plant-based meat products is keenly watched by the seafood industry, which is seeing an increase in the number of alternative seafood items hitting the market.

The combined dollar sales of both fresh and frozen meat alternatives rose 3.6 percent to during March to $92.8 million (€86 million), although this gain was boosted by price inflation, said Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics.

Sales of refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives, commonly sold in the meat department alongside conventional meat, reached $33 million (€30.5 million), down 8.6 percent versus year ago and 21.5 percent versus two years ago — which was the first month of the pandemic with tremendous sales spikes across categories, said Roerink.

Sales volume for these products was off by nearly 25 percent in March.

The top three alternative meat product categories -- dinner sausages, ground meat and meat patties -- all experienced lower dollar and volume sales. The ground meat category, for example, was off by 16.2 percent based on dollar sales, and 13.2 percent in volume sales measured on a per-pound basis.

In the broader frozen meat, chicken and seafood alternative category, dollar sales grew 1.2 percent to $56 million (€51.9 million), but volume sales slipped 2.5 percent.

The weaker performance of alternative meat products comes as sales of alternative seafood products appear to be slowing.

Sales of plant-based seafood in the US market increased 14 percent in 2021 to $13.9 million (€12.6 million), but the category's growth slowed from the 24 percent sales expansion seen from 2019 to 2020, according to data released in March by the the Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA).

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