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Europe's largest dessert market under pressure as half of Germans shun sugar

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Niamh Michail

By Niamh Michail+

Last updated on 10-Mar-2017 at 12:46 GMT2017-03-10T12:46:23Z

© iStock/Ulianna
© iStock/Ulianna

Germany is Europe’s largest dessert market but with almost half (48%) of the population saying they are actively cutting down or avoiding sugary foods, dessert manufacturers are under pressure to innovate, says Mintel. 

Fat fares less badly in the survey of 1000 internet users aged over 16: 44% said they were reducing fatty foods.

Retail volume sales of treats such as ambient cakes, fruit compote or ice cream have stagnated, dropping slightly by 0.2% since 2012 to reach around 0.48 million tonnes in 2016. 

Food and drink analyst at market research firm Mintel Julia Büch said: “Across Europe, the retail desserts sector is facing challenging times. In Germany, the market is under pressure as many consumers are seeking to follow healthier diets.

“While benefiting from an association with freshness, the market for chilled desserts has seen tough times in recent years, owed to growing competition from yogurts and other types of snacks and treats which are positioned more versatility to deliver a powerful combination of both indulgence and health.

© iStock

“This creates opportunities for dessert brands in Germany to leverage their indulgent nature with a healthy twist. Healthier indulgence offerings such as gourmet yoghurt are poised for growth.

According to Mintel’s global product database, which tracks new product launches around the world to clock the latest trends, manufacturers of dairy products are stepping in to fulfill this demand. Analysts tracked an impressive 500% increase in the use of the word ‘rich’ to describe yoghurt between 2013 and 2016.

“Brands are profiting from moving beyond the top drivers of health and naturalness and have increasingly looked to indulgence in recent years, leading to boundary blurring between yogurt and desserts,” Büch added.

“Making use of creamy textures, rich flavours or both, the new generation of dessert-style yogurts provide full indulgence while still drawing on yogurt’s inherent health image, thus putting pressure on the more one-sidedly positioned chilled desserts sector.

It's not only dairy manufacturers that are giving their products health halos with indulgent-style makeovers.

Not taking into account soy yoghurt alternatives, the share of chilled dessert launches making a vegan claim shot up from 1% to 8% over the same period,

Yet Mintel analyst specialised in the German market, Katya Witham, says although sugar has been receiving a lot of negative press, sugar and sweeteners in less processed, more ‘natural’ forms such as honey or maple syrup, are perceived as healthier. “The use of the ‘good’ kind of sugar has become especially important for categories juggling image perceptions at the intersection of health and indulgence, like snack bars.”

Germany's dessert market includes packaged frozen, chilled and ambient/fresh formats of the following products: cheesecakes; fruit pies; mousse; puddings; ice cream and jellies trifles; tiramisu; custard or vanilla sauces and packet desserts for home preparation.

Chilled desserts, such as mousses and puddings, are by far the largest segment, accounting for nearly three-quarters (74%) of total sales in Germany in 2015, followed by frozen desserts like frozen cakes or pastries (24%) and far ahead of ambient desserts, such as fruit compote (2%), said Mintel.

Are you interested in reducing sugar in your products? Are sugar taxes biting your business? Think firms need a regulatory kick?

Whether you’re a manufacturer, ingredient supplier, R&D scientist or public health expert, get involved in the debate with FoodNavigator's online event on sugar reduction. Sign up here .

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