A long established player for vegetarian product launches, the German market is going one step further: vegan product launches now outstrip vegetarian ones.
A growing and "potentially lucrative" category is vegan cheese, according to Mintel analyst Katya Witham.
But she warns that manufacturers should be mindful of the importance of clean and clear label formulations. In 2014, 28% of German adults said they did not buy or eat vegan cheese because they thought it was too artificial.
“Despite the growing popularity of plant-based diets, taste and naturalness is still a major draw for consumers, with the high fat content, long ingredient lists and heavy presence of thickeners, stabilizers and emulsifiers reducing the appeal of vegan cheese offerings,” says Witham in an online blog post.
One company doing this well is leading German cheese manufacturer, Hochland, which launched a vegan cheese range called Simply V (see main image) that is 100% nut-based, contains no flavour enhancers and uses health-haloed ingredients such as coconut oil and almonds.
Meat industry moving into meat-free
Another interesting dimension of the German vegetarian food space is that many of the meat-free alternatives are being produced by the meat companies themselves.
This has led to aschism in the vegetarian world, with leading seitan producer Topas recently quitting the national vegetarian society, VEBU, in protest.
But, as Euromonitor analyst Wiebke Schoon pointed out to FoodNavigator, this is unlikely to concern flexitarians or those who simply wish to reduce their meat consumption, and veggie versions of traditional meaty favourites – mortadella slices, sausages and nuggets – are popular.