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  • Christina Rüter

Meat alternative products: Still a niche or already a competitive market?

Surprising insights and brand conclusions for the German market.



The rise of meat alternatives: A look at the change in our food industry


Let's be honest: have you ever tried meat alternatives? NO?

That's not surprising, as this market is still a niche in economic terms: Only just under 2%* is the value of the meat substitute market in relation to the overall meat market.

At household level, the consumer reach for meat alternative products (including fish) is now over 35% within a 12-month period! This means that more than a third of all private households buy a product similar to meat at least once a year.**


What other figures tell us


We recently took a close look at the plant-based market for a design project, so here are a few insights from our analysis:

The exciting thing is the growth figures (and forecasts)!


✴ Sales growth in Germany in 2022: +7% to 643 million euros

✴ Growth between 2020-2022: impressive +41%

✴ In contrast to this: Decline in pre-packed meat products in 2022: -13%


Incidentally, Germany has the highest growth rates in Europe.


But why do people choose meat substitutes?


A recent study*** provides interesting insights into the individual motives behind the purchase of meat substitutes.


👉 People who value the well-being of others and the environment are more likely to consider meat alternatives.

👉 Self-related values such as self-realisation or curiosity, on the other hand, do not correlate positively with interest in meat alternatives.

Group affiliation plays a positive social role, which tends to motivate people to make the purchase.

👉 In addition, increasing health awareness is of course at the forefront, as plant-based meat usually contains less saturated fat, calories and cholesterol than animal meat.****


What does this mean for brands?


Important aspects for brand strategy can be derived from the motives:


👉 Value-driven branding: in addition to the health benefit, the brand should emphasise "giving" values such as social contribution and sustainability.

👉 Reducing status concerns: positioning products as a supplement to meat, not as a substitute, possibly even as a new option.

👉 Strengthening "Belonging": community-based stories and content promote a sense of togetherness.

👉 Innovation through tradition: Use formats familiar to conservative consumers to make new things more accessible.

👉 Education / inspiration: simple, appealing content such as recipes, blogs, cooking videos to reduce the perceived complexity of dealing with meat alternatives.


The biggest barriers to purchase


✋ Price: Too expensive?

There is currently a trend for retailers to harmonise the prices of meat alternatives and meat products. This would of course help the segment to establish itself and continue to grow.


✋ Additives / ingredients: Too many artificial ingredients!

The declarations are complex and long. However, consumers are paying more and more attention to which ingredients are used in food. There are already some brands that focus their positioning on just a few ingredients (-> clean labelling) and communicate this accordingly.


✋ Flavour: doesn't it taste good?

Flavour is the most important factor, because consumers will only buy a product again if they find it tasty.


My own experience


I recently made spaghetti carbonara with diced bacon from Billie Green, which was pretty tasty and despite critical meat-eaters at the table, I was able to convince everyone.

So there's still a lot of convincing to do, both for the brands on the shelves and in their presentation, and for all of us as consumers.


How do you rate the potential of this segment?

How do you like the flavour of the meat substitute products?


*Federal Statistical Office **GFK ***www.sciencedirect.com, 107114 ****www.imarcgroup.com


Author: Christina Rüter

LinkedIn Post from 14.11.2023






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