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Health and Wellness Series - Vegetarian and Vegan Food in Germany

January 2017

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Executive summary


Vegetarian and vegan foods in Germany are increasing in popularity. In part, this reflects the fact that more consumers are adopting meat-free diets, but it is also a consequence of meat-eating German consumers consciously choosing to reduce their consumption of animal products due to increased awareness of the health and environmental issues linked to meat consumption.

Vegetarian-labeled foods are becoming increasingly prevalent on German grocery store shelves: more and more products are being released with vegan or vegetarian claims. While some merely mention that they are suitable for vegans or vegetarians, others bear official logos from the European Vegetarian Union.

Vegans as a consumer group have become significant enough in numbers to sustain vegan-centred grocery stores: Veganz, Europe's first vegan-only grocery chain, was founded in Berlin in 2011 and now operates ten locations in three countries. This report contains an overview of the Veganz chain, since it represents a new kind of retail experience and reflects the new consumer realities of Germany.

German consumer characteristics

According to Euromonitor International (2016), Germans eat slightly more meat than the average European. In 2015, Germans ate 65.9 kilograms (kg) of meat per capita during the entire year, compared to an average of 64.1 kg in the entire European Union (EU). Meat and dairy consumption are declining in Germany. Partially, this reflects the increasing proportion of vegetarians and vegans in German society, but it is also due to the fact that health-consciousness is challenging traditional attitudes towards food. Meat is increasingly regarded as a potential health risk, and there are growing numbers of "flexitarians", who are inclined to eat meat in sparing quantities, both for health and ethical reasons (Euromonitor International, 2016).

Historical meat consumption in Europe, kilograms per capita per year
Country 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2010-2015 CAGR
European Union 63.36 63.59 63.80 64.01 64.50 64.07 0.22%
Germany 68.9 69.4 68.1 67.5 66.7 65.9 −0.89%
Austria 99.9 100.7 101 101.1 100.9 101.3 0.28%
Belgium 75.7 74.7 74.2 74.3 74.2 74.3 −0.37%
Denmark 63.9 63.8 63.6 62.9 62.2 61.7 −0.70%
Finland 49.4 49.6 49.7 49.3 48.8 48.2 −0.49%
France 70.7 69.9 69.4 68.8 69.4 69.6 −0.31%
Poland 65.1 65.5 66.4 67.4 70.8 70.8 1.69%
Czech Republic 70 70.4 70.4 72.3 74.4 73.3 0.93%
Greece 59.1 58.7 58.0 57.2 56.0 54.7 −1.54%
Italy 65.2 65.2 65 63.5 61.6 60.9 −1.36%
Netherlands 74 74.3 74.6 73.7 72.8 71.9 −0.57%
Portugal 80.2 81.1 82.5 82.8 82.6 82.7 0.62%
Spain 60.5 59.3 58.9 58.9 58 58.1 −0.81%
United Kingdom 57.4 57.1 56.4 55.7 54.9 54.1 −1.18%
Source: Euromonitor International
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Forecast meat consumption in Europe, kilograms per capita per year
Country 2016 (estimate) 2017 (forecast) 2018 (forecast) 2019 (forecast) 2020 (forecast) 2016-2020 CAGR
European Union 64.10 64.39 64.87 65.30 65.75 0.64%
Germany 65.1 64.3 63.3 62.3 61.3 −1.49%
Austria 101.3 100.9 100.4 99.7 98.8 −0.62%
Belgium 73.9 73.4 72.9 72.2 71.5 −0.82%
Denmark 61.1 60.6 59.8 59 58.2 −1.21%
Finland 47.7 47.1 46.5 45.8 45.1 −1.39%
France 69.2 68.7 68.2 67.6 67.2 −0.73%
Poland 71.8 73.3 75.4 77.4 79.2 2.48%
Czech Republic 73.6 75 77 78.9 80.8 2.36%
Greece 53.8 52.9 52.3 51.6 51.1 −1.28%
Italy 60.2 59.6 59.1 58.7 58.6 −0.67%
Netherlands 71.2 70.2 69.2 68.1 67.1 −1.47%
Portugal 82.8 83.1 83.4 83.5 83.6 0.24%
Spain 58.2 58.4 58.7 58.8 59 0.34%
United Kingdom 53.9 53.8 54 54.2 54.5 0.28%
Source: Euromonitor International, 2016
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)

Eastern Europe is increasing its meat consumption due to rising income, but Western Europeans are choosing to consume less meat. As a result, meat consumption in the EU increased slightly from 2010 to 2015, whereas it declined in Germany during the same period. Through 2020, Euromonitor International is forecasting that Germany will have the most rapid decline in meat consumption per capita in the EU.

According to the European Vegetarian Union (Strecker, 2015), 10% of German consumers (7.8 million individuals) are vegetarians, and 1.1% are vegans (900,000 individuals). Since 2006, the number of vegetarians in Germany has doubled (Strecker, 2015); as a result, there is an increasing need for clear labeling and universal, agreed-upon definitions for vegetarian and vegan food.

Animal welfare, environmental concerns and loss of trust are important considerations for German consumers (Thomasson, 2015). Scandals related to horse meat in beef products, alongside concerns over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and antibiotics, are leading Germans to want to reduce or eliminate meat from their diets. Due to these concerns, as many as 60% of Germans are willing to reduce their meat intake, according to a survey related by Reuters (Thomasson, 2015). With regards to vegan consumers, Janssen et al. (2016) found that animal welfare, health and environmental concerns were the three primary reasons indicated by vegan consumers, with 89.6%, 69.6% and 46.4% of respondents indicating these reasons as being among the top three factors encouraging them to maintain a vegan diet.

Growth perspectives

Compared to processed meat and seafood, meat substitutes are a very small market, but they are growing in importance. Growth in the overall processed meat and seafood category has been flat over the last 5 years, at 1.41% CAGR, whereas meat substitutes have increased by 22.36% over the same period (Euromonitor International, 2016).

Historical meat substitute sales in Germany, US $ millions
Category 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2010-2015 CAGR
Processed Meat and Seafood 13,902.1 13,778.9 13,797.8 14,242.1 14,582.3 14,907.5 1.41%
Meat Substitutes 49.0 59.5 72.0 92.0 108.8 134.4 22.36%
Chilled Meat Substitutes 14.0 17.1 20.7 26.5 31.4 47.1 27.46%
Frozen Meat Substitutes 26.4 32.0 38.8 49.6 58.6 66.2 20.19%
Shelf Stable Meat Substitutes 8.6 10.4 12.5 15.9 18.8 21.1 19.66%
Source: Euromonitor International, 2016
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Forecast meat substitute sales in Germany, US $ millions
Category 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2016-2020 CAGR
Processed Meat and Seafood 15,314.3 15,729.8 16,136.8 16,540.6 16,937.7 2.55%
Meat Substitutes 157.1 180.3 204.7 229.3 255.6 12.94%
Chilled Meat Substitutes 60.0 73.6 89.0 105.2 123.2 19.71%
Frozen Meat Substitutes 73.8 81.3 88.3 94.7 100.9 8.13%
Shelf Stable Meat Substitutes 23.3 25.4 27.4 29.4 31.5 7.83%
Source: Euromonitor International, 2016
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)

Through 2020, Euromonitor International is forecasting further growth in the meat substitutes sector, with most of the growth occurring in the chilled meat substitutes subsector. Sausages and cold cuts, which many Germans consider integral to their diets, have a great deal of appeal to people seeking to reduce their meat consumption, and both Euromonitor International (2015) and Reuters (Thomasson, 2015) noted that processed meat manufacturers are putting out vegetarian versions of their meat products. Additionally, foodservice providers are including vegetarian options for customers. Edeka, a leading retail chain, offers "Vegithek" counters in its stores where meat-free versions of traditional German meat dishes are sold (Thomasson, 2015).

New product analysis

Mintel has noted an increasing number of products suitable for vegetarians being released in Germany. Over the last 5 years of data (2011-2015), 4347 products bearing "vegan", "vegetarian" or "no animal products" claims were launched in Germany. The most common goods category among these were meat substitutes: 410 such products were catalogued over the 5 year period.

New products launched, 2011-2015 (top 10 categories)
Top 10 categories Launch count
Total New Vegan/Vegetarian Products 4,347
Meat Substitutes 410
Savoury Vegetable Pastes/Spreads 239
Snack/Cereal/Energy Bars 149
Potato Snacks 141
Prepared Meals 138
Sweet Biscuits/Cookies 127
Baking Ingredients & Mixes 121
Wet Soup 120
Cold Cereals 116
Chocolate Tablets 111
Source: Mintel, 2016
Compiled using all new product launches containing "Vegetarian", "Vegan" and/or "No Animal Ingredients"
New products launched, 2011-2015 (Storage)
Storage Launch count
Shelf stable 3,066
Chilled 992
Frozen 289
Source: Mintel, 2016
Compiled using all new product launches containing "Vegetarian", "Vegan" and/or "No Animal Ingredients"
New products launched, 2011-2015 (Top five launch types)
Top five launch types Launch count
New Product 2,007
New Variety/Range Extension 1,467
New Packaging 541
Relaunch 218
New Formulation 114
Source: Mintel, 2016
Compiled using all new product launches containing "Vegetarian", "Vegan" and/or "No Animal Ingredients"
New products launched, 2011-2015 (Top five claims)
Top five claims Launch count
Organic 2,421
Low/No/Reduced Allergen 2,034
Gluten-Free 1,495
No Additives/Preservatives 1,202
Low/No/Reduced Lactose 1,037
Source: Mintel, 2016
Compiled using all new product launches containing "Vegetarian", "Vegan" and/or "No Animal Ingredients"
Claims excluding the ones used to compile data. Note that many claims overlap.
New products launched, 2011-2015 (price range in US dollars)
Price range in US dollars Launch count
0-$1.99 688
$2-$3.99 1,818
$4-$5.99 898
$6-$7.99 273
$8 and more 129
Source: Mintel, 2016
Compiled using all new product launches containing "Vegetarian", "Vegan" and/or "No Animal Ingredients"
Records for which data is available

Two of the top five claims relate to the natural qualities of the products, while the other three relate to food intolerance. Organic goods form more than 50% of the total new launches, which is unsurprising given the importance of organic food in Germany.

The amount of vegan and vegetarian products being identified by Mintel is trending upwards: 272 were identified in 2011, 1049 in 2014 and 1873 in 2015. So far in 2016, 1509 products have been launched (Mintel Global New Products Database - GNPD, 2016). In many cases, these may not represent new vegetarian and vegan products but may instead be the result of manufacturers affixing claims to their existing line of products in order to inform and attract consumers.

New product examples, 2016

Source : Mintel, 2016

Retail spotlight: Veganz

Founded in 2011, Veganz is the first vegan-only supermarket chain in the European Union. Apart from their headquarters in Friedrichshain, Berlin, Veganz operates nine other locations in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. These are situated in Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Liepzig, Munich, Prague and Vienna (Veganz website). Most locations, including both non German ones, feature vegan bistro cafés. Additionally, Veganz runs an online storefront out of its Hamburg store, offering pick-up and delivery.

Veganz has its own private label for packaged goods. An example of a Veganz private label product is highlighted in the New Product Examples, 2016 section below. These products are also distributed in other supermarkets throughout Europe such as Edeka and Switzerland's Coop (Mintel GNPD, 2016).

The Veganz chain has received positive reviews from numerous blogs dedicated to vegan and vegetarian lifestyles as well as to travel. For example, Mary Scherpe, a travel blogger, visited the Friedrichshain location in 2012 and commented positively on the food offered in their bistro (Scherpe, 2012). Vegan review website Veganoo (2014) favourably reviewed the selections at Veganz stores. Lena Tachdjian, a writer for the vegan lifestyle website ClearlyVeg visited the Hamburg location in 2016 and praised its décor, bistro, variety, unique products and samples.

Plans are currently in place to expand Veganz to North America: headquarters will be in Portland, private-label products will be distributed to grocery stores in the United States and online shopping will be available for Americans (Veganz blog, 2016).

Certification and labeling

German lawmakers have adopted legal definitions for the terms "vegan" and "vegetarian". According to Niamh Michail of Food and Drink Europe (2016), the German government, in conjunction with VEBU, the German chapter of the European Vegetarian Union, have defined vegan foods as foods that are "not of animal origin" and which contain ingredients, processing aides or other substances of any animal origin. Vegetarian goods have the same restrictions as vegan ones except that they may contain milk, colostrum, eggs, honey, beeswax, propolis or wool grease. The aim of the law is to ensure that vegan and vegetarian labeled goods are in fact appropriate for vegan and vegetarian consumers.

Prior to the adoption of this standard, the European Vegetarian Union had developed its own label for vegetarian foods, the V-Label. This voluntary label, which was first introduced in 1985, has strict criteria: any product bearing the label cannot contain any animal that were produced from dead animals. For example, vegetarian-labeled cheese cannot contain rennet taken from dead calves (V-Label website). Furthermore, genetically modified organisms are prohibited. In Germany, the V-Label is administered by VEBU. Goods bearing the V-label can additionally be labeled vegan, but the V-Label is specifically geared towards vegetarian products. The V-Label is applied to both processed food products in stores and restaurant menus.

The Vegan Society, based out of Birmingham, England, promotes its Vegan Trademark, which has been in use since 1990 and which is registered in Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia and India (Vegan Society website). This logo is similar to the EVU's logo, but can only be applied to food and cosmetic products that feature absolutely no animal products or derivatives and whose production did not involve any animal testing. Genetically modified organisms are allowed, provided that the development of the organism did not involve animal genes or animal-derived substances. Yearly licensing fees are charged for the use of the Vegan Trademark, and the Vegan Society promotes licensed products through trade shows and on its website.

All labels allow goods to be manufactured in facilities that also produce non-vegan or non-vegetarian products, but require thorough cleaning of kitchen implements in order to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.


While a majority of German consumers still eat meat, the number of vegans and vegetarians in Germany is growing, such that individuals with plant-based diets are now a significant minority. Furthermore, meat eaters are choosing to consume less meat, and are increasingly drawn to vegan and vegetarian options for health and environmental reasons. Vegan and vegetarian foods are expected to have significant growth potential over the next few years. The number of vegan and vegetarian products being released each year is trending up, especially in the meat substitutes subsector.

In response to informational problems resulting from animal-derived ingredients, certain labels have been developed in order to allow consumers to rapidly check whether or not the goods they are considering are suitable for them. Additionally, the Veganz retail chain has emerged in Germany, allowing vegan and vegetarian shoppers to enjoy a worry-free shopping experience. The rapidity of its expansion is a testament to the growing importance of vegan and vegetarian foods in Germany.

As a final note, when Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) enters into force, almost 94% of EU agricultural tariff lines will be duty-free. The elimination of EU tariffs will help Canadian producers, processors and exporters to be more competitive in the EU.

For more information

International Trade Commissioners can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions and local business contacts, and are an excellent point of contact for export advice.

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Health and Wellness Series - Vegetarian and Vegan Food in Germany
Global Analysis Report
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