Agriculture / Agribusiness

Vion Food Group Sells Slaughterhouses, Pre-Packing Meat Facility, and Ham Brand in Germany to Address Market Challenges

The Netherlands-based Vion Food Group, a global player in the meat and plant-based alternatives industry, has announced downsizing measures for its German portfolio in 2024. 

As part of these changes, Vion has agreed to sell key facilities, including its beef slaughterhouse and pre-packing facility in Altenburg, as well as the ham specialist Ahlener Fleischhandel, to Tönnies Group. Uhlen GmbH will also acquire the company’s pig slaughterhouse in Perleberg. In addition, Vion will close its Emstek pig facility by the end of March 2024 after waiting to receive acceptable offers from potential buyers.

As reported by the firm, the broader European meat industry, with Germany at its core, faces intense global competition from the USA, South America, and ChinaThese challenges have been further exacerbated by the outbreak of African swine fever, resulting in lost export opportunities and increased pressure on German meat companies, explains the company.

ME-AT burger

 In response to the challenges, Vion says that the industry is shifting its focus to the domestic market, aiming to become self-sufficient. Along with political and regulatory challenges, inflation, changing consumer behavior, and other factors, the meat giant argues that this new industry focus has forced companies to reduce herd sizes, resulting in higher animal prices and products. 

Concurrently, the pig sector in Germany, particularly in the northern region, is undergoing strategic restructuring to address overcapacities and manage livestock densities while trying to meet market demands for affordability and sustainability. The beef sector faces a similar situation, experiencing an annual decline in production.

A recent Mintel consumer study shows that 43% of  German consumers have reduced meat consumption due to environmental, health, and animal welfare concerns. Additionally, a pan-European survey conducted last year found that 51% of Europeans said they actively try to reduce their meat consumption, showing a notable rise from 46% in 2022.

ME-AT vegan spare ribs © Vion Food Group

Vion plant-based

The Vion Food Group started to explore opportunities in the plant-based meat category with an alt-meat line called ME-AT in 2020. The company repurposed a slaughterhouse and meat processing plant to make a vegan meat factory in the Netherlands. 

According to the company, it supplies top European retailers and has a presence in over 11 countries. The brand has been expanding its portfolio with NPDs using 2D technology to achieve different patterns and shapes to make realistic boneless ribs, salmon burgers, and entrecôte. 

Additionally, the company is pioneering a new range of burgers and mince made with locally grown fava beans to offer soy-free alternatives. Recently, the company launched various plant-based deli cuts products, including beef carpaccio developed and produced by Encebe, its sister company that has been producing deli products since 1929.

“The world population is growing and our planet is under pressure from the overuse of resources. We want to elevate the protein transition so that people can enjoy healthy, affordable, and tasty meat alternatives from sustainable sources,” ME-AT told vegconomist in an interview last year.

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