We are carrying out studies into various research questions for our clients and are picking up both weak and strong signals that shape the foodservice industry. One of the major developments we saw in recent years is that plant-based eating is moving from trend to a food revolution.

The question was not if but when the leading food processing companies and large foodservice chains would enter the alternative meat market. In the past year, various chains have introduced their products in the US and Europe. The Vegetarian Butcher, acquired by Unilever in 2018, will supply its vegetarian meat to more than 2,500 Burger King branches in 25 countries in Europe. McDonald’s also started a pilot with Nestlé (via the Garden Gourmet brand). After Sweden, their Big Vegan is now on the menu in Germany.

The main drivers for the growth of the dairy and meat alternative market are the increased ethical, health and environmental focus of the consumer. This is partly led by Generation Y and the rise of the ‘flexitarian’ consumer. In The Netherlands, 10% of the population with a dietary preference is vegetarian, while flexitarians account for 37%. This segment is quickly growing in numbers. Since 2017 we saw a growth of almost 20%.

Opportunities & challenges

At Annalise, we see market opportunities for both dairy and meat alternative products within the plant-based protein market. The dairy alternative market is expected to witness an average annual growth rate of 13.6% and the meat alternative 7.8%. However, in this competitive market, brands are aiming to lead and gain market shares in this fast-growing market. The intense competition means there are winners and losers. Therefore mapping market drivers and collecting insights about your competitors is crucial. For example, the British company M&S Plant Kitchen achieved growth in the meat alternative market while Nestlé pulled its plant-based Garden Gourmet brand from the UK shelves. The market dynamics have shifted in the UK from branded players to private label. Usually, large food processing companies benefit from branding and distribution power. While private label seems to be well-positioned because of their manufacturing capacity and price. Additionally, the UK has among Europe’s most developed private label markets.

Companies have to make strategic choices about which countries and channels they serve first. You can choose to start in a highly developed market where there is a high demand for meat alternative products or choose a market where there is more space for growth. If we look at two equally large countries and the development of their meat alternative market you will see significant differences. For example, the UK accounts for 32% of the overall European meat alternative market, while France is only at 8%. With proper market research companies can find out what their chances of success are in this fast-changing market.

We regularly get questions from our clients who are exploring market opportunities: Is there a market for their product? How can they develop a good business case? Or how to scale up to market-ready solutions and what are the needs and drivers of their potential users?

Are you curious about the impact of these or other changes for your organization and where the opportunities lie for you? Feel free to call or email us to discuss your ideas and challenges.

Omed Babak | Consultant at Annalise Market Intelligence

With analytical skills and creative thinking, we can connect the dots quickly for dynamic markets.

The aim is to provide key external market insights and identify growth potential for our clients. Your success is our goal.

Email: ob@annalise.nl | Tel: +31 (0)30 214 8303