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US sales of vegan meat soared by a staggering 279.8 percent last week compared to the same week last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from market data company Neilsen.

In comparison, fresh chicken sales grew by 4.5 percent and 51.8 percent over the same time period.

The virus, which is believed to have started in a wet market in Wuhan, China in December, has now spread globally killing more than 19,000 people at the time of writing.

Coronavirus and shopping

As a result of the pandemic, shoppers have changed their habits, with many people stockpiling food, leaving supermarket shelves bare.

Some goods – notably toilet paper and hand sanitizer – have been particularly sought after by consumers.

Neilsen has compiled data to show which products have seen major sales increasing in the weeks ending March 7 and March 14.

More shoppers are opting for vegan meat right now (Photo: Beyond Meat)

Vegan meat

Fresh vegan meat saw a huge sales spike of 279.8 percent week ending March 14, and 206.4 percent the week before that. Fully cooked vegan meat also saw sales increase by 27.1 percent week ending March 7, and 84.6 percent the following week.

That would appear to be significant growth even in the context of the rapidly expanding plant-based sector. According to market data released earlier this year by the Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association, plant meat is now worth $939 million.

The data showed that overall sales for the plant meat sector grew by 18 percent in 2019, with burgers performing especially well, with sales up 123 percent and reaching $283 million in 2019.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.