Compared to other plant-based products such as cheese and meat, plant-based milk alternatives have been around for some time and many consumers are already well familiar with milk alternatives like soy and coconut milk. In Germany 93% of consumers already buy plant-based milk alternatives, which is higher than in any of the other plant-based product categories.
And the demand for plant-based milk is still growing: it almost doubled in size between 2018 and 2020. The most important reason for the category’s growth is without doubt the popularity of oat-based milk alternatives: that segment tripled in that same period, surpassing more ‘traditional’ milk alternatives like soy and coconut milk in terms of revenue.
When we look at the supply, we see that the plant-based milk category is already developed: we identified over 50 labels that currently offer plant-based milk options to German consumers.
The fact that almost all main German food retailers have entered the plant-based milk category, is another sign that the plant-based milk market is already developed. International FMCG companies have been leading the overall plant-based milk section in Germany so far: Danone for example has been active with their Alpro and Provamel brands for quite some time. Innocent, the British company known for their smoothies, has developed a range of plant-based drinks which are sold in some German supermarkets.They are part of the Coca-Cola company that targets Millennials internationally with plant-based drinks like Adez and the new range of oat milk drinks that they recently unveiled. US-based Hain Celestial is present in the market with two of their European companies: Lima Foods and Natumi. The international FMCG companies are currently being challenged by Oatly that has become the most popular plant-based brand in a few years time and leads the oat based milk segment worldwide.
Most German stationary and onlin supermarkets already offer a wide variety of plant-based milk labels that consumers can choose from. Among the most available brands in supermarkets are Alpro, Provamel, Oatly and Alnatura.
Stationary and online supermarkets like Rewe, Bringmeister, Globus and Amazon Fresh offer the most plant-based milk options to choose from. We saw that vegan online stores like Vekoop, Koku and drugstores like Müller also have a broad product range when it comes to plant-based milk alternatives. Next to mainstream brands they also offer less-known brands, such as Allos, Vitaquell and Sojade.
Oatly successfully fills in the demand for oat milk and their success has led other suppliers to develop oat-based milk alternatives as well. In fact oat is now the plant base used most for most of the products that are sold as milk alternatives. Although we found 16 different plant bases that are being used for the production of plant-based milk, the industry seems to focus on 5 bases: Oats, Soy, Rice, Coconut and Almond.
Looking at the market’s degree of development, the number of suppliers and the products that have already been developed, we think that new business opportunities should be sought in subcategories that are still ‘undiscovered’ or currently being ‘discovered’ by consumers. Upcoming German based companies like Vly Foods and Princess and the Pea (Drinkstar GmbH) for example use peas as a base for their milk alternative. Other interesting protein alternatives are Cashews, Lupin and Hemp.
About Future Grocery Shopping
This is a guest post from Future Grocery Shopping, an Amsterdam based research start-up that develops insights in upcoming alternative food solutions, such as plant-based and cell-based food. The company, founded by Sew Ritoe and Herbert Frühling, has the ambition to become a leading player within these fields. The founders previously worked for leading companies in Tech, FMCG and Media and are dedicated to use and further develop state-of-the art research solutions for the alternative and plant-based food industry.
For more information visit www.futuregroceryshopping.com.