new report shows plant-based consumer choices rose in record numbers across 11 European countries, attracting sales worth €3.6 billion over the past two years.
It looks across plant-based food categories to identify the leading and most promising market segments, showing double and triple digit growth for plant-based milk, meat and cheese.
Dr Kai-Brit Bechtold, Senior Consumer Research Scientist at ProVeg International, which has published the report, said it shows that plant-based diets could become the new normal.
“We are at the very beginning of the growth of plant-based, already one of the fastest-growing lifestyles in Europe,” she said.
“The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the growth, since more consumers care about their health. This has added to the momentum of meatless meat achieving something of mainstream status.”
Mainstream supermarkets have seen double and triple digit hikes in the value of plant-based sales. Their shops in Germany, France and the Netherlands, saw growth of 114 per cent, 90 per cent, and 83 per cent respectively.
The fastest growing category was plant-based milks, with oat milk rapidly overtaking rivals.
“A lack of affordable ingredients is one of the main obstacles in under-developed categories”
Plant-based yoghurt and cheese have been making waves, with yoghurt seeing a 497 per cent sales growth in Belgium’s mainstream supermarkets. Cheese increased its total sales value by 165 per cent, 150 per cent, and 140 per cent in British, German and Dutch consumer markets respectively.
Dr Kai-Brit Bechtold said, “The market has expanded to those whose main concerns are taste, texture, price and availability.”
She pointed to opportunities in underdeveloped categories like plant-based cheeses and some baked goods, saying, “A lack of affordable, high-quality raw materials and ingredients is one of the main obstacles to meeting the increased demand for plant-based products.”
Sales of plant-based food in Germany grew by 97 per cent to €817 million. In the United Kingdom, the sales grew by 73 per cent to €750 million.
Horizon 2020 has funded the Smart Protein Project, made up of 30 partners, including universities, research institutions, small and large companies and non-government organisations.
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom were all covered in the study.