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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.