European plant-based food sector grows by a staggering 49% in two years


Plant-based consumption is growing at record levels across Europe, according to Nielsen data, the first and only report of its kind, published today by the Smart Protein project.

Produced in partnership with ProVeg International, the project analysed previously unseen Nielsen data in order to gain unprecedented insight into European consumer habits.

The report scanned supermarket data from 11 European countries over the past three years, and represents the biggest and most accurate overview of plant-based consumer habits in Europe to date.

Indeed, every country in the survey has reported an increase in its plant-based consumption, with a staggering 49% growth across Europe.

Key findings:

  • The European plant-based food sector has grown by 49%, reaching a total sales value of €3.6 billion.
  • The German plant-based meat sector has grown by 226%, reaching a total sales value of €181 million (only vegan meat included).
  • Sales of plant-based milk lead the sector in most countries, followed by plant-based meat.
  • Oat milk leads the plant-based-milk sector, with the highest growth rate in most countries.
  • Plant-based-cheese purchases have grown by 140% in the Netherlands and 77% in Germany.

“Finally, we see the tremendous growth of plant-based food in Europe over the last few years reflected in numbers. This report clearly reveals the huge increase in sales of plant-based food and offers a green light to the food industry in terms of pursuing more plant-based options,” said Dr Kai-Brit Bechtold, Senior Consumer Research Scientist at ProVeg International.

“This report by Nielsen validates that demand for plant-based meat is on the rise and we aim to meet this growing demand by offering consumers the nutritional and environmental benefits of plant-based proteins through our products.” Bram Meijer, Regional Marketing Director EMEA of Beyond Meat

Country highlights:

Austria: Austria has experienced incredible double-digit growth of 57% in terms of sales value over the past two annual periods, with growth even more pronounced in discount stores. Plant-based meat has seen tremendous sales-value growth, at 82%.

Belgium: All categories showed growth, but plant-based yoghurt has skyrocketed in discount stores, with triple-digit growth over the past two annual periods (497%).

Denmark: Denmark has a very high discounter-share of sales value, at 48%. Plant-based meat showed 50% growth over the past two annual periods.

France: France showed an incredible growth rate for discount stores, at 90%, and was even stronger in terms of plant-based meat (100%). Almond variants lead the plant-based-milk sector.

Germany: Plant-based fish and plant-based cheese both showed tremendous triple-digit growth over the past two annual periods, at 623% and 150% respectively.

Italy: Plant-based milk leads the sector in terms of sales value and growth rate.

Netherlands: The plant-based sector experienced strong double-digit growth, especially in discount stores. Plant-based cheese showed dramatic triple-digit growth over the past two annual periods, at 400%.

Poland: The sales value of plant-based-milk increased by 62% over the past two annual periods, with triple-digit growth for discount stores.

Romania: Plant-based milk and plant-based meat both showed double-digit growth.

Spain: All categories experienced double-digit growth, with plant-based milk leading the market in terms of sales value (€318m).

UK: Plant-based milk (107%) and plant-based cheese (165%) both showed triple-digit value-sales growth over the past two annual periods. Plant-based meat (€502m) leads the plant-based market in the UK.

The Smart Protein Plant-based Food Sector Reporrfet can be downloaded here.

Notes to editors

About the Smart Protein Plant-Based Food Sector Report

This analysis is based on scanning data from 11 countries and covers six different plant-based products categories in each country, depending on availability: Austria (Plant-based (PB) meat, milk, yoghurt); Belgium (PB meat, milk, yoghurt); Denmark (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream); France (PB meat, milk, yoghurt); Germany (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, fish); Italy (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream); Netherlands (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese); Poland (PB milk); Romania (PB meat, milk); Spain (PB meat, milk, yoghurt); United Kingdom (PB meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, bakery).

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 it presents 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. For more information, please contact us via email at

About the Smart Protein project

Smart Protein is a €10 million, EU-funded project that seeks to develop a next generation of foods that is cost effective, resource efficient, and nutritious. Alternative protein sources such as legumes and side-streams of beer and pasta production are used to generate ingredients as well as plant-based meat, seafood, dairy products, and baked goods.

About ProVeg International

ProVeg is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal products with plant-based and cultured alternatives.

ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.