By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh, Industry Relations, FMI
Tofurky Certified Plant Base Seal

Plant-based food products are no longer just a trend – they are here to stay in an industry that is growing incrementally each day. FMI’s Power of Meat 2019 report finds that plant-based meat alternatives sales increased 19.2% last year and account for $878 million in annual sales. Plant-based meat alternatives are just one example within an innovative and diverse pool of new products – dairy alternatives, frozen food products, snack foods, etc., also are expanding aggressively.

In order to help consumers select plant-based products with ease, the Plant Based Food Association (PBFA) created the “Certified Plant Based” food certification program. This program is the first and only plant-based food certification aimed to ensure confidence in what plant based means. The trade group partners with certifying agency NSF International to distribute plant-based seals to companies that meet its rigorous protocol. Products that receive this certification are easily identifiable in the food marketplace as alternatives to animal-based products.

What makes a product eligible for Certified Plant Based certification?

Food products must meet specific criteria in order to be able to make a plant-based claim. PBFA defines plant-based food as, “a finished product consisting of ingredients derived from plants that include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and/or legumes.” Plant-based foods that are eligible to receive the Certified Plant Based seal include meat, poultry, and seafood alternatives, egg substitutes, and dairy alternatives such as plant-based milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream.

Only plant-based foods that are intended to replace animal-based products such as meat, egg, and dairy alternatives are eligible. Products that are inherently plant-based, such as single ingredient fruits, vegetables, or nuts, are not eligible to receive the Certified Plant Based seal. Pet food, alcohol, tobacco, and dietary supplements are also ineligible to be certified.

How is “Certified Plant Based” different from vegan?

Certified Plant Based provides the same animal-product-free assurance as vegan-labeled products, though it is intended to reach a broader group of consumers. Vegan is a specific lifestyle, while plant-based can cover more types of consumers, such as flexitarians.

FMI’s 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report finds a rising number of households (33%) have at least one member voluntarily following a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or flexitarian diet—a trend which is higher for Gen Z and Millennial households. However, Trends finds only 5% of households with kids describe themselves as eating a completely plant-based diet, meaning the exclusion of all animal products including meat, dairy, and eggs.

Certified Plant Based focuses on plant-based meat, egg, and dairy alternatives, while the vegan label can apply to a wider range of food and non-foods. The word vegan focuses on what is not in the food, while the Certified Plant Based label defines what the food is made of. Lastly, Certified Plant Based foods are independently verified by NSF International and must pass its review before the label can be used.

FMI Plant-Based Resources

FMI has set out to provide a free, online-learning series to share marketplace innovations, expand understanding of the plant-based consumer, dive into shopping trends and understand the labeling, naming compliance and regulatory landscape.

Attend our plant-based webinars to learn the answers to questions like:

  • What is driving increasing interest in plant-based foods and alternative proteins?
  • What does the rise of shoppers purchasing plant-based products mean for retailers and CPG manufacturers?
  • How are plant-based products perceived and used by buyers?

Recording: The Plant-Based Tipping Point

November 19, 2019: The Surge of Plant-Based Foods

January 16, 2020: Understanding the Plant-Based Foods Consumer

Photo Credit: Plant Based Foods Association