Annika Janicke
Annika Janicke is a Research Analyst and experienced food scientist, monitoring the market drivers of the German food and drink industry and identifying trends and opportunities across a number of food categories.

Like so many other things in 2020, celebrations for this year’s Oktoberfest are set to feel very different as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. The Munich event has been cancelled and many will instead be looking to raise a socially distanced stein at home. With the festivities originally booked to start next week (19th September), we look at some Oktoberfest inspired innovations from around the world.

The two-week celebration is traditionally fuelled by beer, sausages and sauerkraut and here we shine a light on healthier, more sustainable varieties for a homemade Oktoberfest that feeds the soul as well as the stomach.

Saying Auf Wiedersehen to alcohol

Oktoberfest is primarily a beer festival. But there has been a recent shift away from drinking alcohol, with Gen Z consumers in particular turning their backs on the excessive boozing of previous younger generations. The pandemic has also seen people of all ages reduce their drinking and as a result, there is a real opportunity for alcohol-free beers or drinks that can position themselves as a beer alternative to tap into the Oktoberfest celebrations.

A great example of this is Franziskaner Weissbier Alkoholfrei Holunder (Alcohol-Free Elder White Beer) in Germany which has just been repackaged with a  new design. It is made from 55% alcohol free wheat beer and 45% elder flavoured soft drink. This fruity, fresh and not so sweet beer contains vitamin C and folic acid.

Also now hitting the market are new beer alternatives that could prove a popular choice amongst more health conscious consumers. These include drinks such as Kombuchanv 03 Hops & Hemp Kombucha, which is now available in Canada. The hemp product is free from THC and the combination of hops and hemp apparently helps with a stronger calming effect.

For the love of…..the meat-free hotdog

There is no denying that the Bratwurst is the quintessentially German fast food and an absolute mainstay of the Oktoberfest celebrations. But with people becoming more discerning about the ingredients in the food they eat, both from a health and environmental perspective, we are seeing more products highlighting their vegetarian and vegan credentials. Meat–free and plant based sausages are an ideal way to give people that quick, savoury hit, without them having to compromise their desire for a sausage snack.

Plant Pioneers Caramelised Onion Shroomdogs are vegan, low sugar sausages made of mushrooms and red onion chutney, and are said to be a source of protein that supports the growth and maintenance of muscle mass.

Meanwhile, Naturli’ Vegansk Soyapølse (Soy Based Sausages) are said to be rich and made of “the finest ingredients”. The vegan and 100% plant based product is free from meat and gluten, rich in protein, and low in CO2.

Vegan toppings take top spot

No sausage would be complete without the obligatory toppings and sauces. And not wanting to miss out on the health and sustainability trend, we’re seeing more vegan sauces launch to market. Brands that are introducing vegan recipes that minimise wastage or have a carbon footprint benefit attached to ingredients are perfectly positioning themselves to tap into the popular zero waste movement.

Rubies in the Rubble Tomato ketchup is a case in point. Launched in the UK, this vegan ketchup is said to be packed with natural ingredients that would otherwise have been wasted. It is free from gluten and contains 50% less refined sugar.

We’re also seeing a greater variety of flavour options, giving those looking for vegan sauces a much wider choice. Primal Kitchen Rosemary Garlic Vegan Mayo Spread & Dip with Avocado Oil is free from soy, canola, sugar, GMO and gluten, and is kosher, paleo and keto certified.


Sauerkraut: a traditional favourite, perfect for modern times

What German dish would be complete without sauerkraut? It is naturally good for your gut health and we’re seeing brands really push these natural benefits, elevating this simple accompaniment.

With the colder season just around the corner, Biona Organic Golden Turmeric Sauerkraut comprises organic ginger and turmeric sauerkraut, providing an extra immunity boost in these unprecedented times.