While vegan is a hot market worldwide, it seems that Germany is the leading country for vegan product innovation globally. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), Germany was the leading market for vegan food and drink product launch activity in 2016, with 18% of all global food and drink product launches with vegan claims occurring in Germany. The only country coming close to this amount of vegan launch activity in 2016 was the United States, where 17% of all new global vegan food and drink products were launched, followed by the UK with 10% global share.

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Mintel research reveals that vegan-friendly launches have soared over the past few years in Germany, with the share of food and drink products featuring vegan claims in total food and drink launches rising from 1% in 2012 to 13% of all launches in 2016. This is in stark contrast to the fact that, globally, food and drink products with vegan claims only accounted for 4% of new food and drink introductions in 2016.

Vegetarian claims have also witnessed growth in recent years in Germany. Over the past five years, the share of food and drink launches with vegetarian claims in total food and drink product launches in Germany more than doubled, rising from 3% in 2012 to 7% in 2016. The global share of food and drink product launches with vegetarian claims is, meanwhile, relatively stable at around 11% of all food and drink launches in 2016, with little fluctuation over the last five years.

Katya Witham, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said:

Veganism is now seen as a trendy lifestyle, and Germany is home to the most vegan product launch innovation. Today, vegan products attract attention from a much wider audience, namely health and ethically driven, flexi-vegan consumers.

Currently there is a strong following for meat-free diets in Germany with as many as 7% of German adults considering themselves to be vegetarian, while 5% claiming to be vegan, however it seems that younger generations in particular are embracing the lifestyles. Mintel research shows that 14% of 16-24 year old Germans identify themselves as vegetarian and one in ten (10%) are vegan.

In comparison in France 13% of 16-24-year-olds identify themselves as vegetarian, followed by 11% in Italy, Spain (8%) and Poland (11%). The picture is similar for vegan consumers aged 16-24, with 12% of this age group in France following this diet, followed 9% in Italy, Spain (7%) and Poland (10%).

However, while the levels of vegan and vegetarian product launch activity continues to rise in Germany, research from Mintel GNPD shows that the number of meat-substitute products launched in Germany fell by 17% between 2015 and 2016.

“The image of vegans has undergone a significant shift in recent years. The decline in meat substitute product launches could be a sign that the current offering does not fulfill consumer expectations. The trend towards naturalness plays a dominant role in the food choices of German consumers, who prioritise health benefits of unprocessed, natural and wholesome products. Germans are also very distrustful towards the content of the food and drink products they buy, opting for natural products with short ingredient lists.” Katya comments.

Mintel research confirms this, revealing that one in three (33%) of German adults regularly check the ingredients list, while 35% avoid food and drink products with artificial additives and preservatives. And it seems that the majority of meat substitute products do contain some sort of food additives: according to Mintel, over two thirds of German launches in 2016 in the meat substitute segment contained stabilisers (74%), thickeners (72%) and bulking agents (63%); while over half included emulsifiers (63%) and gelling agents (52%).

“German consumers are increasingly sceptical about the ingredients in meat substitutes, creating the need for natural formulations with shorter ingredient lists. With long ingredient lists and food additives becoming a topic of growing concern and a possible threat to future sales growth, meat substitute brands should begin to embark on reformulation work in order to make their products more natural. We’re seeing a number of innovators in this area already offering simplified ingredient lists and using naturally sourced ingredients to formulate meat alternative products, leveraging the goodness of vegetables in their recipes.” Katya concludes.

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