dad and kids pouring milk

Plant Focused and Planet Friendly: Plant-Based Nutrition Trends in Europe

Plant-based products are showing steady growth in the European market, with the pandemic spurring even greater interest in plant-based nutrition. Explore the rise in vegan claims along with key drivers and the most popular product categories and claims.

Vegan Launches Trending Up Across Europe

Vegan product claims continue to grow across Europe. The percentage of new foods and beverages launched in Europe that included a vegan claim quadrupled between 2014 and 2020, growing from 3% to 12%.1 Germany had the highest percentage of vegan claims in new products in 2020 at 22%, followed by the UK at 19%, the Netherlands at 14%, and Spain at 10%.2

There are signs that the COVID pandemic has given plant-based nutrition a boost. Mintel reports 17% of consumers in Spain, 13% in France and Germany, and 12% in Italy indicate the COVID pandemic has made a vegan diet more appealing to them.3 Two out of five German consumers and at least one in three Spanish consumers agree the pandemic proves people need to eat fewer animals.4 According to FMCG Gurus, one in five German and French consumers plan to change their diets to include more plant-based foods going forward.5

Key Drivers and Preferred Plant-Based Products

Top reasons for adopting plant-based or plant-centered eating include health, the environment, and animal welfare. For example, FMCG Gurus reports that among UK consumers who plan to add more plant-based foods to their diets, 63% believe plant-based foods are healthier, 59% believe they’re better for the environment, and 22% are concerned about the welfare and treatment of animals, with plant-based milk and plant-based meat the preferred product choices.6 German consumers show similar product preferences.

Plant-Based Products Consumers Plan to Increase (among those planning to boost plant-based intake)

Product Type UK Germany
Plant-based milk 48% 60%
Plant-based meat 41% 50%
Plant-based meals (e.g., pizza) 24% 22%
Plant-based yogurt 18% 17%
Plant-based cheese 15% 12%
Plant-based ice cream 14% 5%
Other plant-based beverages 10% 8%
Other 19% 10%
Source: FMCG Gurus, COVID-19 Survey – Germany & UK – February 2021. 
Base: 250 German & 190 UK consumers.  

Plant-Based Snack Trends

The rise of snacking due to COVID lockdowns has made snacks a particularly important area to watch for plant-based innovation. Plant-based snacking options range from bars to plant-based dairy products like beverages and yogurts. According to Mintel, 26% of UK consumers and 20% of Irish consumers indicate they’re more likely to eat snacks with a vegan label, with younger consumers showing the strongest preference for snacks with vegan claims.7

Among new snack launches in the UK and Ireland in the past five years, vegetarian is the leading claim at 50%, while 28% list a vegan claim.8 Protein and fiber are also trending in snacks; 16% of new snack launches in this period contain high or added fiber claims, while 12% contain high or added protein claims.9

Deep dive into snacking trends in the UK and Ireland by exploring our interactive infographic based on our own proprietary research: Snacking in the UK & Ireland: A Case Study.

woman eating snack

For bars, plant-based claims grew an impressive 220% between 2019 and 2020 in UK and Ireland new product launches, making it the fastest-growing claim in the category.10 Ethical claims around packaging are also on the rise, with 39% of new bar launches claiming environmentally friendly packaging and 29% including a recycling claim.11

In plant-based beverages, yogurts, and ice creams, vitamin and mineral fortification is the trend to watch. Vitamin/mineral fortified takes the lead in “plus” claims in these categories in new product launches in Europe.12 Calcium and other nutrients associated with traditional dairy products are an important part of delivering the healthy nutrition consumers expect.

Connecting with the Plant-Based Consumer

Across product categories, an important strategy for connecting with plant-based consumers is communicating important product benefits quickly. Key terms being leveraged by European food and beverage companies include plant-based, vegan, sustainability, and animal welfare. These are increasingly found on product packaging, as well as in digital brand messaging.

Since health is the top motivator for many consumers seeking plant-based products, the addition of relevant health and nutrition claims can also be effective. Added vitamins and minerals, high fiber, and high protein are all claims that signal to consumers they’re making a healthier choice by purchasing that plant-based product. 

To learn about our plant-based nutrition solutions to help you succeed in the European market, including our BarHarvestTM Pea Protein for high protein bars and baked goods that stay soft and moist for long shelf life, contact us

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References

1-2. Mintel GNPD, March 2020.
3-4. Mintel GNPD, Plant-based foods in a post-COVID-19 world, August 2020.
5. FMCG Gurus, COVID-19 Survey – Germany & France – July 2020. Base: 1,000 German & French consumers.
6. FMCG Gurus, COVID-19 Survey – Germany & UK – February 2021. Base: 250 German & 190 UK consumers.  
7. Mintel, Consumer Snacking: Inc Impact of COVID-19 - UK - July 2020; Mintel, Consumer Snacking Habits: Inc Impact of COVID-19 Ireland - June 2020.
8-11. Mintel, Global New Product Database, accessed February 2021. 
12. Mintel, A year of innovation in plant-based drinks, yogurts & ice cream, 2019, April 2019.

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