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Despite having a reputation for being a nation of devoted meat eaters, new research from Mintel highlights a growing trend toward vegetarianism and meat-reduced diets among young consumers in Germany, pointing towards a bright future for the meat substitutes category in this market. Today, almost one in five (18%) Germans aged between 16 and 24 purchase meat alternative products, compared with an average of one in ten (11%) consumers across all age groups.

What is more, as many as 15% of 16 to 24 year olds consider themselves to be vegetarians, over double the national average of 7%. Overall, the number of vegetarians and consumers who use meat alternatives declines with age, less than one in twenty (3%) over 55’s are vegetarians and just 5% of this age group purchase meat alternatives.

15% of 16 to 24 year olds consider themselves to be vegetarians, over double the national average of 7%

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

“Domestic meat consumption has been slipping in recent years, reflecting a trend toward meat-reduced diets and vegetarianism in Germany. With the growing ranks of consumers embracing vegetarianism and veganism or a flexitarian eating pattern, the meat alternatives category is emerging from the shadows in Germany, fuelled by demand for a healthier and more varied diet.”

“Young German consumers are leading this trend, they are most likely to be abstaining from meat consumption more frequently and will likely continue to follow this nutrition pattern in the future. A growing trend towards reducing meat consumption on ethical and environmental grounds among young people promises a bright future for the meat substitutes category in Germany.” Katya continues.

Despite growing consumer interest in meat alternatives, the usage of meat substitutes in consumers’ daily diets is still low in Germany. Among consumers who tried meat alternatives, almost half (48%) are occasional users with a frequency of once a month or less.

But it appears that meat alternatives have a more permanent place on the dinner plates of younger consumers. Almost one in four (23%) German adults aged 16 to 24 eat meat alternative products a few times a month, while 12% of the same group admit to replacing meat with meat substitutes a few times a week.

“As well as being more willing to try new foods, younger consumers tend to integrate meat alternatives into their meals more frequently because they have grown up seeing a wider selection of meat substitutes at retail outlets, as opposed to older consumers who may be less familiar with the products.” Katya adds.

Health trends motivating consumers to cut back on meat are by far the most dominant factor steering people towards meat alternatives in Germany, in particular among older users. Almost four in ten (38%) 45-54 year olds who eat meat alternatives are doing so because they try to reduce their meat consumption, most likely driven by prospects to cut fat and cholesterol intake.

In contrast, for young consumers, ethical considerations remain the main influencer of choice in favour of meat alternatives. Nearly four in 10 (39%) German consumers aged 16-24 eat meat substitutes for ethical reasons, while almost one-third (30%) are doing so due to concerns about the environmental impact of industrial meat production.

Using meat substitutes to add variety plays an equally important role across all age groups, with products like tempeh, tofu and seitan increasingly standing in for meat in German consumers’ diets. Texture and flavour are, however, likely to be the biggest hurdles for most consumers in adopting meat alternatives in Germany, with only 14% of Germans saying they enjoy the taste of the faux meat products.

“When it comes to German consumers’ motivations for shifting their diets towards meat alternatives, the reasons stretch far beyond vegetarianism, offering much scope for future NPD based on meat substitutes’ ability to meet numerous consumer needs, from health through variety to ethical considerations.” Katya concludes.

Press review copies of the research and interviews with Senior Food & Drink Analyst, Katya Witham, are available on request from the press office.