Against the backdrop of Mintel’s recent findings that vegan food and drink launches have now outpaced vegetarian launches in Germany, it comes as no surprise that a growing number of German spread manufacturers are keen to tap into an expanding audience of meat avoiders. But while there has been no shortage of vegan sweet and savoury spread introductions, vegan cheese spreads have, until now, been almost non-existent in the German market. This can be largely explained by challenges in the formulation of such products. Despite the growing popularity of plant-based diets, taste and naturalness is still a major draw for consumers, with the high fat content, long ingredient lists and heavy presence of thickeners, stabilizers and emulsifiers reducing the appeal of vegan cheese offerings. According to Mintel research from 2014, 28% of German adults said they did not buy or eat vegan cheese because they considered it as being too artificial. In October 2015, Hochland, one of the largest cheese manufacturers in Germany and in Europe, released a range of four vegan spreads under the new Simply V brand. Spanning sweet and savoury flavours, the spreads come in varieties ‘sweet pepper’, ‘herbs’, ‘hazelnut-nougat’ as well as ‘creamy-fresh’. The vegan range is currently available in a number of mainstream grocery outlets across Germany, including Globus, Tegut and Kaufland, as well as in the specialist vegan chain Veganz, with more items such as vegan cheese slices due to be added soon. 100% nut-based, with a short list of recognizable ingredients and no flavour enhancers, Hochland’s Simply V range claims to be on a mission to improve the reputation of vegan cheese. As cheese alternatives are most commonly based on soybeans, opting for trendy ingredients such as almonds and coconut oil adds a health halo to the vegan proposition of the Simply V spreads, whereas Hochland’s almost century-long expertise in cheese making brings reassurance on taste. According to the company, the unique selling point of the Simply V range is its taste, which claims to closely mimic the flavour and mouthfeel of ‘real cream’ cheese. Hochland, along with other companies such as Rügenwalder Mühle and Söbbeke, has ventured out of its core business to explore vegetarian and vegan opportunities. Also noticeable is the fact that Hochland has established a dedicated subsidiary E.V.A. GmbH overseeing the development, production and marketing of vegan products, suggesting that the company is gearing up for high levels of growth in the vegan segment. Hochland’s launch demonstrates an interesting move into an untapped, but potentially very lucrative sector. Yet, it remains to be seen whether the company will be able to replicate the success of fellow veggie innovator, Rügenwalder Mühle, which managed to propel its vegetarian and vegan offering in the mainstream market in Germany. Going forward, vegan cheese alternative brands should look at ways to make their products more natural, moving away from overt vegan claims to a more holistic clean label and better-for-you proposition. Katya Witham is Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel with a dedicated field of focus on Germany. Katya draws on her comprehensive knowledge of the market to identify and explore the major trends across various FMCG categories, providing the insights needed to successfully navigate the German market. You might also be interested in: No related posts.