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Retail webinar – plant-based innovations Germany

On July 9, Floor Buitelaar, founder of Floreer Consultancy, gave a webinar about plant-based innovations in German retail. From July 2017 to June 2018, Germany has been the number one innovator in plant-based food and drinks innovations (source: GFI). That is why we went on a retail safari to various German players at the end of 2019.

retail safari Germany
Retail Safari Floor Buitelaar (dec, 2019)

This webinar has been organized as a Zoom-in Call for The Protein Cluster, the business network for plant-based protein of Foodvalley NL, together with Go4Export of OostNL. The webinar is available (on-demand) for the more than 50 members of The Protein Cluster (TPC). The total overview of speakers consisted of:

  • Jochem Wolthuis (Go4Export)
  • Jeroen Willemsen (The Protein Cluster)
  • Albrecht Wolfmeyer (ProVeg Incubator)
  • Peter Link (Vegconomist)
  • Floor Buitelaar (Floreer Consultancy/ The Protein Cluster)

Do you want to know more about the knowledge that has been shared during this webinar? Floreer Consultancy is pleased to host a (video) session to share our vegan retail expertise with your company. Feel free to send us a message and we are happy to think along with the knowledge that will be useful for your firm.

webinar German retail

Vegan retail podcast #2: junkfood vs. healthy vega(n) meals

‘Vegan and vegetarian products are not only bought by “the green girls” nowadays.’ This became clear in Focusplaza’s podcast number 2 about vegan food in retail. The statement indicates that vegan is not a trend, but a lifestyle that we are increasingly moving towards.

The share of vegetarian products in the supermarket will rise. IRI research agency even expects plant-based products to become mainstream in the future and animal-based meat to become a niche. IRI researcher Rini Emonds makes this prediction in the latest podcast, which focuses on the trend of vegan and plant-based in retail.

Not only ‘the green girls’ choose for voor vegetarian and/or vegan products has been concluded by Emonds, Mathijs Huis in ‘t Veld (vegan food chain Jack Bean) and Floor Buitelaar (Floreer Consultancy). ‘Let’s be honest, still 75 percent of our target group is a woman. On the other hand, vegan is becoming more and more interesting and accessible for other target groups as well’, says Mathijs Huis in ’t Veld. ‘Many people wondered whether they should continue to eat animal-based meat, in corona times.’

The insights of the podcast are available (in Dutch) via Spotify:

Retail webinar – The Protein Cluster

On the 15th of May Floor Buitelaar, founder of Floreer Consultancy, gave a webinar on the Dutch retail landscape. During this webinar, we particularly dived into the plant-based protein innovations in the Dutch retail stores.

This webinar has been organized as a Zoom-in Call for The Protein Cluster, the business network for plant-based protein of Foodvalley NL. The webinar is available (on-demand) for the more than 50 members of The Protein Cluster (TPC).

Do you want to know more about het knowledge that has been shared during this webinar? Floreer Consultancy is pleased to host a (video) session to share our vegan retail expertise with your company. Feel free to send us a message and we are happy to think along with the knowledge that will be useful for your firm.

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Vegan Retail Podcast #1

The first Podcast of Focusplaza about vegan food 🌱 in retail 🛒 is live! The podcast season contains five episodes with main speakers of the retail and vegan industry. Topics that are being discussed are: the trend in general, target groups, developments, start-ups vs. corporates and the future of this market.

A new episode will be released every three weeks. Founder of Floreer Consultancy, Floor Buitelaar, is the regular guest as Vegan Retail Expert at this podcast.

Listen to the first episode (in Dutch) on Spotify “Vegan food from a niche to a more mainstream market”. Centrally in this podcast is the change in consumers habits to food. The following speakers share their perspective on the developments in vegan food:

  • Gert-Jan Gombert (Vivera)
  • Pieter Kuizinga (Jumbo Maripaan)
  • Gerrit Grievink (Focusplaza)
  • Floor Buitelaar (Floreer Consultancy)

UK retail sets example for plant-based category wide innovation

The urgency of an overarching category manager for plant-based foods has never been this high. The biggest plant-based product categories (long-life milk and fresh meat) have come to a tipping point of becoming mainstream during the covid-19 period. 

However, consumers are demanding plant-based options category wide. An offering of vegan meat and milk aren’t enough. Plant-based innovation in the whole range of the supermarket is a must to keep fulfilling the demand these consumers. 

The Vegetarian Category Manager

In the Netherlands, it is often the case that a food retailer has a “category manager vegetarian” for the vegetarian and vegan meat category. This category manager falls mostly under the meat department (including fish, poultry and thus vegetarian). The smaller retailers combine such category management roles with multiple product groups. This means that a category manager is responsible for e.g. poultry, fish and the vegetarian/ vegan meat range. So time to spend on innovation in the plant-based meat space is limited. Let only for a category wide approach. The other category managers, e.g. the dairy category manager, will have to set up the vegan range in the category by itself. 

Vegetarian and vegan range at Jumbo Foodmarkt Leidschendam (Mall of the Netherlands)

UK plant-based strategy

In the UK we see more integrated vegan roles popping up in retail. Tesco has a Chef Director of plant-based innovation since a couple of years already. This director is Derek Sarno, a very well known chef in the field. They co-created the brand Wicked Kitchen, but he also works on other plant-based innovations within Tesco. Now, Tesco is looking for a brand manager plant-based products too. Thereby intensifying the work in this field. 

Category wide innovation at Tesco

This is not limited to food retail. Also in UK food service we see examples such as Papa Johns hiring a Chief Vegan Officer. In the Netherlands, the promising prospects for the vegetarian and vegan category are underlined by almost all retailers. In the podcast of Albert Heijn, “at our plate”, the category manager vegetarian and convenience highlighted that vegetarian has to become the biggest department on the long-term. 

Category wide innovation

Designating an employee that’s fully responsible for the vegan innovations will definitely help in the speed of innovation. In some organizations, an advocate of this topic will also help to point out the importance of these innovations plus to make shelf space available for plant-based options. 

The plant-based long-life milk and meat alternatives prove that once the range of offerings is expanding (and taste and price are good), more customers choose for these products. By focusing on innovation in all categories, the percentage of plant-based products will even grow steeper than it does nowadays. 

A dedicated vegan dairy shelf at Kaufland, Germany

Plant-based dairy introduction at Albert Heijn

In times of corona, there is still plenty of vegan news. For example, in week 13 Albert Heijn introduced the first real vegan dairy shelf in the Netherlands. Vegan dairy in the refrigerated shelf has grown in recent years from a number of SKUs, to half a meter last year and now even to 2 meters in the larger and urban establishments (including the lactose-free range). You could now also call this the “free from” shelf.

Plant-based dairy at Albert Heijn

Four new brands

Well, let’s have a look at what’s on the shelf. First of all, four new brands can be found (within this category): two well-known players from the animal dairy market, namely Activia and Danio. In addition, Abbot Kinneys (part of Wessanen for some time now) has been added as the real premium brand within the category. This is a local player that responds fully to the sustainable product demand and was previously only available at organic supermarkets. Finally, the dessert brand Gü has been added. This makes the first vegan desserts (including cheesecake) in food retail a fact.

Vegan & glutenfree cheesecakes, Gü

In addition, Alpro naturally has a large number of SKUs on the shelf and Oatly is also an integral part of the list. The Oatly range has been expanded with the introduction of the vegan dairy shelf, which now includes spreads and creams. Albert Heijn’s private label range has also been largely expanded, including “yochurt”, “kwarq”, “variations to” (whipped cream, cream) and “desserts” (custard). Albert Heijn chooses names that are similar to the original or are quite general (such as dessert). AH also opts for the name “plant-based” instead of “vegan”.


The increase in oats is striking looking at the ingredients. Almost every brand has a SKU on the shelf. Not surprising, because in the US “oat dairy” increased by 686% in 2019 (Nielsen). The demand for oat products was mainly caused by the extremely popular Oatly. Activia cleverly responds to this trend with its packaging. An “oat yogurt” that only consists of 10% oats and actually is a soy yogurt product. Will the often more conscious customer looking for these products, like such a marketing ploy?

Oat or soy yogurt?

Koelverse drinks

In addition to the addition of spreads, desserts and vegan whipped cream (smart repositioning of AH’s long-life whipped cream by placing it in the refrigerator), the increase in fresh vegan dairy drinks is particularly striking. This is not surprising, looking at the ratio of long-life vs. chilled vegan milk in the USA. In the EU, mainly long-life vegan milk is sold and the chilled vegan dairy is still in minority. In the US, the opposite is true. The new dairy shelf from AH has opened up the market for chilled vegan dairy.

With this introduction, Albert Heijn again proves to be the frontrunner in the vegan market and draws attention to it with the current promotions in the Netherlands. Undoubtedly, this will make vegan diary grow even faster.

Plant-based communication of Albert Heijn

Covid-19 increases demand for Vegan

Vegan is now more relevant than ever, as a result of the occuring crisis. Consumers are – in great numbers – searching for healthier and more sustainable products. Especially in the first few weeks of the Covid-19 crisis, referred to as the “hamsterweken” in The Netherlands, we’ve seen that demand for vegetarian and vegan products has increased vastly.  This equates to an increase in plant based article sales of 265% over an 8-week period. For example, in week 16 this was once an increase of 200%. Meat was also bought in bulk, but this category only showed an average increase of 30%. In week 16, this amounted to an increase of 39% (US retail, Nielsen, 2020).

The graph above shows the increase in vegetarian & vegan meat and the increase in fresh animal meat in weeks 13 to 16. This data comes from the US retail channel and has been compared with the data for the same weeks in 2019.

This is another step towards real consumption change and with that the movement from animal to vegetable. All the more reason to continue developing on vegetarian and vegan produce now. Contact us to discuss the possibilities for your company.

Source: Financial Times, 26 april 2020 & Nielsen, 2020.