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Market & Trends

How Are Consumer Dietary Preferences Changing Throughout Europe?

If you work in the food and beverage industry, tracking consumer preferences is an important part of your work. What do consumers want from their diet? How are their food preferences and motivations evolving? Do you need to adapt your business and/or products, and if so, how? The answers to these questions are vital in order to optimise sales, and need to be monitored as consumer preferences shift. In its latest New Food Hub article, ProVeg International shares key insights from its recent Smart Protein Consumer Survey, Evolving Appetites. The pan-European survey explores how consumer behaviour has changed over the last three years, building on their 2021 survey report, What Consumers Want. The primary objective of this follow-up study was to track and analyse whether …

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Food & Beverage

Plant-Based Meat and the Ultra-Processed Food Debate: Where Next?

What is an ultra-processed food (UPF)? For the majority of consumers who do not wish to read the original multi-paragraph description, various shorthands have arisen. They are ‘foods your grandmother wouldn’t have eaten’, ‘foods wrapped in plastic’, and even ‘foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce’. Safe to say, the meaning of a UPF is contested, and poorly understood. Plant-based meat, however, has been firmly placed in the ultra-processed food category. In a survey by the British Nutrition Foundation, plant-based meat was the second most commonly associated food with UPFs. With this comes many of the negative connotations that are associated with the category. To untangle the complexity in the UPF debate, in its latest video, ProVeg International’s New Food Hub chat with food systems researcher …

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Packaging

Unveiling the Impact of Packaging Colour on Plant-Based Meat Consumption

While plant-based meats present various advantages, such as health and sustainability benefits, not all consumers readily choose them over their animal-based counterparts. The reasons for this hesitancy lie in persistent barriers to consumption. Food choices are influenced by common factors like taste, price, and health. However, the visual appeal of packaging also plays a crucial role, shaping consumer perceptions of these barriers. Remarkably, simply using appealing colours in product packaging has the power to reshape consumer behaviour and prompt a shift toward plant-based meat. When used in packaging, colour can attract attention, create positive associations, and enhance brand recognition.[1] Thus, it is crucial to understand how colour influences consumers’ purchase decisions in the context of plant-based meat products, particularly given the lack of research on …

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Retail & E-Commerce

At Six Out of Seven Dutch Supermarkets Plant-Based Alternatives Are Cheaper Than Animal Products, Study Finds

Recent research by think tank Questionmark on behalf of ProVeg International has revealed that some plant-based products are now more affordable than their animal counterparts in six supermarkets out of the seven major Dutch retailers. The research compared prices of 12 standard products, including vegetarian meatballs, plant-based cheese, and yogurt, at supermarkets Albert Heijn, Aldi, Dirk, Jumbo, Lidl, Plus, and Ekoplaza. The results show that in nearly every case, the cheapest plant-based option was even more affordable than the most economical animal-based counterpart.  Up to 20% less At supermarket Ekoplaza, the savings on a shopping basket including vegetarian meatballs, plant-based butter, and vegetarian shawarma can be as high as €9.66, amounting to a 20% discount.  Jumbo and Lidl also offer attractive prices, with plant-based options being €3.89 and …

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Food Service

Serving Plant-Based Success on School Plates: Interview with ProVeg UK’s School Plates Programme

“We started in 2018 with one local authority partner in the UK. Six years on we’re working with a quarter of all the local authorities in the UK. That’s about 6,300 schools, over a million meals a day that we’re influencing, and over 12 million meals that we’ve swapped from meat-based to plant-based. So it seems to be working,” says Colette Fox, Head of Programme at ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme. The School Plates programme, run by the UK branch of international food awareness NGO, ProVeg International, has had some striking success. Harnessing the power of behavioural nudges (and, of course, delicious plant-based food), the team is making a big impact in school canteens across the United Kingdom. The scheme is continuing to grow, with …

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On The Green Side clean label chicken alternatives

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Market & Trends

ProVeg South Africa Report Shows Significant Rise in Plant-Based Options in Fast Food Industry

ProVeg South Africa has released a report on the prevalence of plant-based options in South Africa’s fast-food and restaurant industry, offering in-depth analysis and ranking of major chains based on their plant-based offerings, advertising strategies, product naming, and more. According to the report, fast-food consumption in South Africa has surged by 33.1% since 2019, spurred by challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and load-shedding crises in the country, which caused many people to turn to fast food due to power outages in their homes. In response to growing health, ethical, and environmental concerns, plant-based main dishes have seen a 16.67% increase in menus, though they still constitute less than 5% of the total offerings. The rise in vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian consumers, who now, according to …

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Health

A Multi-Problem Solution: Why Hospitals Are Serving Plant-Based by Default

With the well-known health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet, plant-based catering is the obvious choice for hospital canteens and in-patient meals. Given our evolving knowledge on the harms of these animal products, serving such foods in hospitals is becoming increasingly incongruous with the mission of healthcare providers. One group of doctors stated: “It’s the equivalent to distributing cigarettes in the pulmonary care unit.”[1] By embracing plant-based menus, hospitals can improve patient and public health, and directly mitigate the chronic and public health risks they continually combat. How are hospitals transitioning to plant-based catering? The New Food Hub’s recent article spotlights the case study of New York’s public hospitals. An effort spearheaded by New York Mayor and plant-based advocate Eric Adams, the initiative to …

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French Supreme Court rules in favor of plant-based group in legal battle over misleading labels

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Politics & Law

Setback for French Government as Court Supports Plant-Based Meat and Rejects Label Confusion

After five years of legal battle, the French Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Nutrition & Santé Group (owner of Gerblé, Céréal, ValpiBio, Valpiform) which had been accused by the meat lobby Interbev (Association Nationale Interprofessionnelle du Bétail et des Viandes) of unfair competition and misleading plant-based meat labels, announces the Association Végétarienne de France.  The court confirmed that a risk of confusion between “steak” and “veggie steak” had not been established. In the court’s view, consumers can distinguish between the different categories if the packaging and advertisements “clearly” indicate that the product is plant-based, reports the French media.  Against plant-based meat This ruling favoring plant-based meat is a significant setback for the French government, which recently renewed proposals to prohibit more than 21 meat …

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Packaging

Does The Colour Of Packaging Influence Consumer Willingness to Purchase Plant-based Meat Products?

When you’re out buying food, what draws you to a product? Is it the image on the packet? The appearance of the food, if you can see it? Or the colour of the packaging? New research conducted by ProVeg International takes a deep dive into packaging, exploring the psychology of colour for plant-based meat products. The exciting report will reveal the influence of packaging colour on consumer perceptions, and their willingness to engage with meat alternatives. To find out more ahead of publication, ProVeg’s New Food Hub interviewed research lead, Ajsa Spahic, Project Coordinator at ProVeg International. Read on for a sneak preview of a 14-minute interview and uncover the importance of colour nudging for your business. What inspired ProVeg’s focus on packaging and marketing …

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Belgium ends war on plant-Based food labeling

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Politics & Law

Belgium Ends War on Plant-Based Food Labelling: Vegan Burgers & Steaks Can Keep Their “Meaty” Names

Article update 15 Jan 2024: Fien Louwagie, Communications Manager, ProVeg Belgium, said: “Whilst the process for developing the guidelines has not officially changed, we believe it is unlikely to get any further before the next election. We hope that, post-election, the new Government will acknowledge the fact that consumers are not confused at all by plant-based foods carrying “meaty” names and will therefore abandon the development of guidelines altogether.” The Belgian government has concluded the so-called “veggie war,” allowing plant-based products to display meaty names such as ‘vegan burger’ or ‘vegan steak‘, as revealed by Nieuwsblad. The Minister of Economy, Pierre-Yves Dermagne, recently announced that Belgium would not establish guidelines on naming and labelling vegetarian and vegan products. The decision came amidst significant disagreement at the …

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Investments & Finance

The Economic Case for Alternative Proteins

There is an abundance of reasons to embrace the protein transition from animal-based to alternative proteins. Whether to meet environmental targets, improve public health, reduce antibiotic resistance, or improve the lives of animals, it’s a multi-problem solution to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Just as the automobile industry pivots from gas-powered to electric vehicles and the energy sector from fossil fuels to renewables, the food system is poised for its own transformative shift. Crucially, these transitions are motivated not only by an environmental imperative but by a clear economic opportunity. New technologies and innovations lead to job creation, spur economic growth, and open up new markets. The transition towards alternative proteins is therefore not just a matter of sustainability or ethics. It represents …

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Packaging

Maximising Consumer Appeal With Strategic Plant-Based Packaging

A product’s packaging is its visual handshake with consumers; it’s the first interaction, where preconceptions are challenged and perceptions formed. Alternative protein products are in a unique position regarding their packaging. Often using novel ingredients and innovative production techniques, the aim is to entice consumers towards a product that might feel unfamiliar compared to an established animal product counterpart. Tackling these challenges and the host of pre-existing consumer assumptions that come with them, effective packaging is a key aspect of a product’s success. Secure a strong first impression, and you’ll position your product favourably in consumer minds, paving the way for repeat purchases. In its recent New Food Hub article, ProVeg International shares plant-based packaging best practices to boost your sales, with recommendations on colour …

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Sustainability / Environment

Reports by Plant Based Treaty and FAO Outline Path to Food System Transition Following COP28

As COP28 comes to an end, reports by the Plant Based Treaty and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have outlined how a 1.5°C-aligned food system could be achieved. The Plant Based Treaty has published a report called Safe and Just, which calls for a “vegan doughnut economics” strategy (adapted from the book Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth) that meets everyone’s needs while staying within social and planetary boundaries. It provides a framework for transitioning to a plant-based food system within the timeframes for net zero, claiming that this could free up three-quarters of agricultural land for rewilding. Safe and Just also calls for a redirection of subsidies currently given to the meat and dairy industries towards improving the accessibility of plant-based food. Furthermore, …

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Protein

Czech Parliament Hosts Seminar to Promote Plant-Based Diets

In early November, the Czech Chamber of Deputies hosted a seminar titled “New Trends in the Food Industry – an opportunity for the Czech Economy, a healthier society and a sustainable future?”. Organized by Klára Kocmanová, Vice President of the Environment Committee, and sponsored by the Ministers of Environment and Health, this event gathered food producers, retailers, and specialists to discuss advancing alternative protein sources. ProVeg Czechia‘s food industry and retail consultant, Tereza Trávníčková, initiated the seminar, highlighting the increasing adoption of plant-based diets among Czechs and the importance of achieving price parity. “Price significantly influences consumer decisions. Czech consumers face significant price differences: they pay over 160% more for a plant-based alternative to minced meat and almost 60% more for a plant-based alternative to …

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Health

Study Finds Plant-Based Meat Products Are “Often Healthier Than Animal-Based Meat Products”

Although plant-based foods are a staple for many, some consumers question whether plant-based meat products adhere to nutritional guidelines, can rival traditional meat options, and contribute to a healthy diet. A new study by ProVeg shows that plant-based meat alternatives are often a healthier choice than the animal-based meat products they replace. This information has the potential to be groundbreaking in persuading health-conscious consumers to opt for plant-based meats instead of those derived from animals. The study,[1] led by ProVeg Netherlands, compared the nutritional value of 130 meat substitutes available in Dutch supermarkets with 41 animal-based reference products. For the meat substitutes, the researchers used the nutritional information as shown on the packaging. For the animal-based reference products, ProVeg took the nutritional values from the …

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Austrian supermarket chain BILLA opens plant-based area

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Studies & Numbers

Diet Shift Continues in Austria: Veganism Surges While Meat Consumption Declines

The latest Smart Protein survey on European consumers has revealed a continuing diet shift Austria, where the number of vegans has risen 2%, and over half of Austrians have reduced their meat consumption since 2021. The study carried out by food awareness NGO ProVeg International, in partnership with Innova Market Insights, the University of Copenhagen, and Ghent University, surveyed 7,500 people in ten countries to compare and analyze the eating habits of Europeans regarding plant-based foods. In Austria, 750 individuals (50% men and 50% women) making the purchasing decisions in their household provided information on their current shopping habits and attitudes towards plant-based foods. Following the analysis, the figures show that Austria is leading the way in veganism, with the vegan population rising from 3% …

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German sausage

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Politics & Law

A Pivotal Moment: Germany’s €38M Budget for Transition to Plant Proteins – ProVeg Responds

Last week, Dr. Zoe Mayer, an Alliance90/Green Party Member of the German Parliament, who serves on the Committee on Food and Agriculture, announced that the German government has allocated €38 million in its 2024 budget for the promotion of plant-based, precision-fermented, and cell-cultivated proteins. “The intensive negotiations on the budget have paid off. Our budget holders were able to push through key green demands that represent nothing less than a paradigm shift in the agricultural sector’s funding system. For the first time, a large sum – 38 million euros in 2024 – will be earmarked for the promotion of alternative protein sources and the switch to plant-based agriculture, after decades of focusing primarily on subsidising livestock farming. This is a clear commitment to the protein …

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Retail & E-Commerce

ProVeg International and Lidl Germany Talk Price Parity, Protein Transitions, and Leading by Example

On October 11, Lidl Germany made the exciting decision to equalise the pricing of products within its own-brand plant-based range, Vemondo, with that of comparative animal-based products. The news sent shockwaves through the European retail sector, with numerous other supermarkets following suit in and out of Germany. Since Lidl Germany’s announcement, Kaufland, Aldi Süd, Penny, and BILLA, have all announced various price initiatives. In its recent New Food Hub video, ProVeg International caught up with Amali Bunter, Head of Sustainability at Lidl Germany to delve into the motivations behind the discount retailer’s decision. Bunter uncovered Lidl’s approach to sustainable diets, how price parity fits into its strategy, and why retailers need to “lead by example”. Read the interview highlights below. ProVeg: Please, can you tell …

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Retail & E-Commerce

ProVeg’s Retailer Roundtable: Retailers Converge to Discuss the Future of Food

At the end of October, NGO ProVeg International hosted the first-ever Retailer Roundtable in Berlin. Over 40 market leaders from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Poland gathered with other retail and food system experts to discuss one important question: How can retailers work together to facilitate a protein transition towards a more sustainable food system? In its recent New Food Hub article, ProVeg uncovers the main themes, discussion points, ambitions, and outcomes of the event. From bold commitments to innovative new strategies, the potential to realise the future of food was palpable. Why retailers? With industry leaders from across Europe in attendance, one point was abundantly clear: retailers hold a powerful and important role in facilitating a protein transition towards a more sustainable …

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Young people talking/ Survey on Gen Z supporting veganism

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Studies & Numbers

EU-Funded Survey: 51% of Europeans and 48% of Brits Are Reducing Meat Consumption

A recent pan-European survey reveals positive findings around the transition to plant-based foods: 51% of meat eaters in Europe claim they are actively reducing their annual meat consumption, showing a notable rise from 46% in 2022; and in the UK, 48% of consumers are reducing their meat intake as a fifth of consumers purchase plant-based meat at least once a week. Carried out by the food awareness organisation ProVeg International in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and Ghent University, and funded by the Smart Protein project; the survey questioned 7,500 individuals from ten European countries, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the UK, to gain insights into their plant-based food preferences, eating habits, and preferred purchases. According to the research, …

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