The food and beverage market is undergoing a substantial change, globally. Consumer interest in alternative proteins, non-animal-based food products is increasing, whereas the food industry is constantly innovating new ingredients and products to satisfy consumer demand.
Germany has emerged as the leading force in Europe in the vegan-revolution. The country has one of the highest rates of vegetarians and vegans as compared to any other European country. According to ConsumerIntel360’s estimates, over 13% of the population follows a vegetarian diet, and 2.7% follow a vegan diet. The market for plant based products is driven by growing vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian consumers in the country.
According to ConsumerIntel360’s Global Plant Protein Survey Q1 2021, about 46% of the people in Germany are looking to reduce their meat consumption. This reiterates the fact that a rising number of flexitarians and an increasing number of vegetarians are supporting the growth of the plant protein industry in Germany. In addition to this, similar nutrition, taste, and texture of plant-based products are other factors that are supporting market growth.
Demand for dairy based alternatives on the rise
The demand for dairy based alternative is increasing in Germany. However, its popularity has increased even more in the wake of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus outbreak. For instance, the sales of oat milk have jumped 300% after the coronavirus outbreak, largely because it is a better shelf-stable product. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, plant-based milk was widely popular due to the growing veganism trend in the country.
Dairy companies have entered into this market to cater to rising demand for dairy based alternatives. For instance, Muller, a dairy giant based in Germany, forayed into dairy based alternatives with the launch of Muller Vegan product line, March 2021. This will include oat-based based milk available in chocolate, banana, vanilla, and caramel flavors. It will also offer Muller Vegan Rice, dairy-free rice pudding.
Earlier, In January 2021, Bauer, the privately-owned German dairy processor, rolled out plant-based dairy alternatives. The company had previous introduced vegan yogurt in the past but the company has now introduced GrunKraft, a new umbrella brand for plant based dairy products.
Plant-based chocolates and bars are in high demand
Consumers are looking for products that are better for their health. Reduced sugar intake, gluten-free products are capturing the eyes of consumers of all ages. Therefore, to meet the changing consumer preferences, plant-based companies are innovating new products. For instance, a plant-based chocolate bar from The Nu Company is quite high in demand. The startup has already sold more than one million chocolate bars. Another startup in Germany, Alvego, is offering a wide range of Seaweed snacks for consumers in Germany.
Rising popularity of pea protein
Pea is the number one choice for plant-based companies when it comes to ingredients that offer higher proteins and essential nutrients intake. Consumer demand for sustainable and healthier food options is continuously rising and this is pushing food manufacturers towards pea protein. This rising popularity of pea protein can be attributed to the fact that pea protein includes 25% protein content which is much higher than rice (7%) and wheat (13%) proteins.
Moreover, pea protein is also more sustainable than soy protein. Various companies have taken advantage of this trend and launched their products to cater to the rising demand. For instance, Iglo, a frozen food brand, launched its pea-based product line in Germany in 2020. The products include minced meat, burger patties, and spicy meatballs among others. Also, Vly Foods created a more sustainable, plant-based milk alternative which is made from yellow split peas. Similarly, DrinkStar offers pea-based milk product in Germany which contains more protein than traditional milk. The pea protein used is GMO-free and requires relatively low water consumption and land.
Health and environmental concerns supporting market growth
Among the other factors that are promoting the growth of the plant protein market – is the rising health and environmental concern in Germany. The anti-livestock narrative among the German population has triggered a movement towards meat-free products. A whole new food ecosystem is rising in Germany which is largely driven by startups, who are not only responding to the growing consumer demand for plant-based food but are also accelerating the market growth with innovative product offerings.
Changing consumer preferences considering COVID-19
The global coronavirus pandemic has propelled many consumers in Germany to change their eating habits. According to ConsumerIntel360’s estimates, the sales of vegan and vegetarian products increased by over 45% in the first quarter of 2021, as compared to same period last year. This represents a dramatic shift to plant-based alternatives after the coronavirus outbreak.
While the trends observed are similar all over the world, another factor that benefited the plant-based industry is the rise of coronavirus cases in meat processing plants in Germany. The current crisis of the novel coronavirus outbreak represents a window of opportunity for the alternative protein sector in Germany, which is already on the rise.
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