European plant-based food sector grows by 49% in 2 years

#SmartProtein

Over the last few years, supermarkets and discounters in Europe have been offering more and more plant-based options. From meat alternatives to plant-based milk, supermarkets and discounters continue to increase their shelf space for plant-based alternatives due to the ever-growing demand. Now, the market data for Europe’s plant-based sector is being published for the first time in a collaboration between Nielsen MarketTrack and Proveg International. The results reveal the true extent of the acceleration of plant-based consumption over the past three years. The Smart Protein project analysed the results and made astonishing findings.

The published report covers retail data from 11 European countries for the past three years, providing unprecedented insights into European consumer habits, and helping retailers and manufacturers to decide where they should place their focus.1)This analysis is based on scanning data from 11 countries and covers six different plant-based product categories in each country, depending on availability: Austria (Plant-based (PB) meat, milk, and yoghurt); Belgium (PB meat, milk, and yoghurt); Denmark (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, and ice cream); France (PB meat, milk, and yoghurt); Germany (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, and fish); Italy (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese,and  ice cream); Netherlands (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, and cheese); Poland (PB milk); Romania (PB meat and milk); Spain (PB meat, milk, and yoghurt); United Kingdom (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, and bakery items). The report shows sales values in Euros and sales volumes in kilograms or litres for the overall market, including discounters, as well as for discounters separately. The data covers moving annual totals for Sep/Oct (depending on the country, between calendar weeks 39 and 42) 2018 vs 2019 vs 2020. This means that it represents the total sales values from October 2017 to September 2018 versus October 2018 to September 2019 versus October 2019 to September 2020. The data comes from Nielsen MarketTrack and was compiled by ProVeg International.

Plant-based products growing at record levels year by year

It turns out that the scale and scope of plant-based products in European supermarkets have been underestimated. The results of the analysis indicate that the European plant-based-food sector has grown by a whopping 49% over the past two years2)The numbers refer to MAT Sep/Okt 2018 to MAT Sep/Okt 2020 and refer to value sales if not stated otherwise. , with discounters even surpassing supermarkets’ growth rates in most countries in various categories.

Read on to find out which categories have grown the most.

Plant-based meat continues to move into the mainstream

The report shows a massive increase in plant-based meat sales: Over the past two years the strongest growth is coming from Austria (82%) and Germany (226%). Do consumers prefer their plant-based food frozen or refrigerated? Do they prefer patties to sausages? These answers, along with a wealth of other information, can be found in the insightful report. But something that caught our attention was the fact that, in Germany, discounters showed stronger growth rates for plant-based meat than did the overall market, which grew by 226%. France follows, with a remarkable triple-digit performance at discounters. One thing is certain: plant-based meat will continue to expand its footprint in supermarkets. This means that even more innovative and engaging products are needed to satisfy the growing consumer demand.

Milk alternatives thriving in every country

Compared to plant-based-meat products, milk alternatives have already achieved widespread consumer acceptance, and are now considered a mainstream product. In the countries we looked at, plant-based milk leads the market in most countries (for example, we see double-digit growth in Romania and Poland, with Poland even showing triple-digit growth in discounters over the past two years). Plant-based milk has also been performing well in other countries, with triple-digit growth in the UK, and Germany, Spain, and Italy leading in terms of sales in the latest annual period. Oat milk has done particularly well Europe-wide, surpassing its soya and almond competitors. Factors such as local cultural habits and price play a role in sales figures, but the striking expansion of the sector reflects the growing acceptance of plant-based milk.

What about plant-based cheese?

Although the code for completely convincing plant-based cheese has not yet been cracked, we nonetheless found consumer demand for plant-based cheese stronger than ever. Across Europe, plant-based cheese shows triple-digit growth, with the Netherlands leading with a growth rate of 400% over the past two years. The UK and Germany follow, having increased their plant-based cheese sector by 165% and 150% respectively. New, more convincing cheese products will be essential in meeting the demand from Europe’s consumers.

If you take one thing away from this report…

Countries have national preferences. Over the past two years, plant-based yoghurt has gone through the roof in Belgium, with a huge growth rate of 497% in discounters, while the plant-based fish market has increased enormously in Germany, expanding by 623%. It is important to take national preferences into account in order to meet consumer’s needs accordingly. The Smart Protein Plant-based Food Sector Report, with market data from Nielsen, will help you to get a strong grasp of the product landscape in Europe.

References

References
1 This analysis is based on scanning data from 11 countries and covers six different plant-based product categories in each country, depending on availability: Austria (Plant-based (PB) meat, milk, and yoghurt); Belgium (PB meat, milk, and yoghurt); Denmark (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, and ice cream); France (PB meat, milk, and yoghurt); Germany (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, and fish); Italy (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese,and  ice cream); Netherlands (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, and cheese); Poland (PB milk); Romania (PB meat and milk); Spain (PB meat, milk, and yoghurt); United Kingdom (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, and bakery items). The report shows sales values in Euros and sales volumes in kilograms or litres for the overall market, including discounters, as well as for discounters separately. The data covers moving annual totals for Sep/Oct (depending on the country, between calendar weeks 39 and 42) 2018 vs 2019 vs 2020. This means that it represents the total sales values from October 2017 to September 2018 versus October 2018 to September 2019 versus October 2019 to September 2020. The data comes from Nielsen MarketTrack and was compiled by ProVeg International.
2 The numbers refer to MAT Sep/Okt 2018 to MAT Sep/Okt 2020 and refer to value sales if not stated otherwise.