Opinion

The Fastest Growing Plant-Based Meat Markets in Europe: Germany, Italy, Romania and Portugal

Fresh Whole Beef
Italy
Published Dec 23, 2023
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Plant-based meat in Europe accounted for EUR 2.01 billion in sales in 2022 – up 3% compared to the EUR 1.96 million achieved in 2021 and 19% compared to the EUR 1.69 million in 2020. The European plant-based meat market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 10% between 2023 and 2028, suggesting a sustained growth rate in coming years. Countries such as Germany, Italy, Portugal and Romania are driving growth in the plant-based meat alternative market. On the other hand, countries such as the UK and the Netherlands are steady, mature markets, not expected to show significant growth into the future.

Growth of Plant-Based Meat Market in Europe

Plant-based meat in Europe accounted for EUR 2.01 billion in sales in 2022 – up 3% compared to the EUR 1.96 million achieved in 2021 and 19% compared to the EUR 1.69 million in 2020. Plant-based meat made up 35% of the EUR 5.8 billion plant-based food category in terms of retail sales in 2022. As illustrated in Figure 1, plant-based meat sales in Europe have experienced significant and consistent growth in recent years. In terms of volume, plant-based meat sales grew 1% in 2022 to 846 million units, with this sales volume being 21% higher than in 2020. The plant-based meat market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 10% between 2023 and 2028, suggesting a sustained growth rate in coming years. Countries such as Germany, Italy, Portugal and Romania are driving growth in the plant-based meat alternative market. On the other hand, countries such as the UK and the Netherlands are steady, mature markets, not expected to show significant growth into the future.

Figure 1. Market size of plant-based meat in Europe from 2016-2022

Source: NielsenIQ, GFI, Tridge

Large and Mature Markets - UK and the Netherlands

Although large markets, the UK and the Netherlands exhibited negative growth in 2022 (-8% and 2%, respectively) and only marginal growth since 2020 (1% and 2%, respectively) as exhibited in Figure 3. The plant-based meat markets in these countries are relatively mature, as evidenced by their high per capita expenditure at EUR 7.9 for the UK and EUR 12.6 for the Netherlands. The UK and the Netherlands also have a high share of their total plant-based retail expenditure devoted to plant-based meat at 49% and 54% respectively. This is further evidence of the maturity of the plant-based meat sectors in these countries. Based on these factors, the plant-based meat markets in the UK and the Netherlands are not expected to exhibit high growth in the coming years, but are rather expected to continue growing at a slow and steady rate.

Figure 2. Plant-based meat sales by country in 2022

Source: GFI, Tridge

Fastest Growing Markets in Europe

Germany is the largest plant-based meat market in Europe as exhibited in Figure 2, with EUR 642.8 million in retail sales in 2022. It has grown significantly in recent years, rising 7% in 2022 and an impressive 40% since 2020. Germany is also showing a large reduction in animal meat consumption (58%), with 40% of Germans identifying as flexitarians, and 25% of Germans expressing intentions to consume more plant-based meat in the coming years. Plant-based meat makes up 34% of Germany’s EUR 1.91 billion plant-based retail expenditure and is the largest plant-based food category, emphasizing the centrality of plant-based meat in German diets. Germany has a relatively high per capita expenditure on plant-based meat at EUR 7.7, but there is still ample room to grow, considering countries like the Netherlands, which are at EUR 12.6 per capita. Thus, Tridge expects that Germany will exhibit double digit growth in the coming years in its plant-based meat market.

Italy has also shown considerable growth in recent years, growing 12% in 2022 to EUR 168.4 million and 40% since 2020, solidifying its place as the fourth largest plant-based meat market in Europe. Similar to Germany, Italy is showing high levels of reduction in animal meat consumption at 59%. Italy still has a relatively low level of flexitarians at 23%, and only 25% of total plant-based expenditure is devoted to plant-based meat. Coupled with the low expenditure on plant-based meat of EUR 2.9, it can be concluded that the Italian plant-based meat industry still has significant room for growth. Furthermore, 22% of Italian consumers expressed intentions to consume more plant-based meat in the coming years. Based on this information, Tridge expects that, similar to Germany, Italy will exhibit double digit growth in the coming years in plant-based retail sales.

Figure 3. Plant-based meat sales growth by country

Source: GFI, Tridge

Romania had the second-smallest retail expenditure on plant-based meat in 2022 at EUR 9.8 million, but had the highest growth in 2022 at 28% and has grown 83% since 2020. Romania also has the lowest per capita expenditure on plant-based meat at EUR 0.5. The plant-based meat industry in Romania is still in its infancy but is growing rapidly. Plant-based meat accounted for 30% of total expenditure in Romania in 2022 on plant-based foods, further highlighting its room for growth. Tridge expects the rapid growth rate of plant-based meat consumption in Romania to continue in the coming years, given the scope for growth. Romania presents a promising opportunity for companies wishing to enter a smaller market with rapid growth.

Portugal presents a similar situation and opportunity to Romania. Portugal is the smallest plant-based meat market in Europe at EUR 7.6 million in 2022 but presented the highest growth rate since 2020 at 85% and growing 19% in 2022. Plant-based meat also makes up just 12% of Portugal’s total expenditure on plant-based products. This, coupled with the low per capita expenditure of EUR 0.7 in 2022, highlights the infancy of the plant-based meat sector in Portugal. Thus, Tridge expects Portugal’s plant-based meat sector to continue growing rapidly, with double digit growth in the coming years. Portugal also presents a promising opportunity for companies wishing to enter a smaller market in Europe with rapid growth.

In conclusion, the European plant-based meat market is expected to continue to exhibit double digit growth in the coming years. The landscape is characterized by countries with mature and stable plant-based meat markets which are not expected to grow rapidly in the coming years such as the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and Denmark. However, other countries are exhibiting rapid growth in the plant-based meat market and are expected to continue exhibiting growth in the coming years such as Germany, Italy, Romania, and Portugal.

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