Europe Sees 22% Growth In Plant-Based Food Since 2020, Report Finds

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Sales of plant-based foods in 13 European countries hit a record high of €5.7 billion last year, with a growth rate of 22 percent since 2020, according to a report by the Good Food Institute Europe.

The Good Food Institute Europe (GFI Europe) report analyzed NielsenIQ data and found that plant-based meat sales grew to €2 billion in 2022, accounting for six percent of the pre-packaged meat market, while plant-based seafood and cheese categories saw double-digit growth.

The analysis looked at sales data across Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.

The findings

The report found that sales of plant-based meat grew by 21 percent from 2020 to 2022, while conventional meat sales decreased by eight percent in the same period. Furthermore, unit sales of plant-based milk grew by 20 percent in the same period, while conventional milk unit sales decreased by nine percent.

Courtesy Likemeat

The most developed category of plant-based foods was plant-based milk, which now accounts for 11 percent of the overall milk market. Sales of plant-based milk grew by 19 percent between 2020 and 2022, reaching €2.21 billion in 2022 — almost twice as much as conventional milk. Sales of plant-based cheese increased significantly, jumping 102 percent between 2020 and 2022, reaching €144 million in the countries where data was available, growing more than ten times the sales of conventional cheese.

Although plant-based seafood was the fastest-growing category with unit sales expanding by over 300 percent between 2020 and 2022, it remains the least developed, with sales of just €43 million in 2022. The report also found that sales of plant-based yogurt grew by 16 percent between 2020 and 2022, while conventional yogurt sales decreased by four percent.

The report highlights the impact of inflation on the plant-based food industry, with plant-based cheese prices decreasing by three percent last year, while conventional cheese increased by 12 percent. Similarly, plant-based milk prices increased by only one percent last year, while conventional milk increased by 17 percent.

European food tech growth

The report also shows that there is a need for more investment in research and infrastructure to scale up production and reduce prices.

“European companies and governments have a critical role to play in supporting consumers to make more sustainable choices,” Charlotte Lucas, Senior Corporate Engagement Manager at GFI Europe, said in a statement. “

Heura founders Bernat Ananos Marc Coloma
Spain’s Heura founders Bernat Ananos (l), Marc Coloma (r) | Courtesy

Companies must continue investing in product innovation to develop delicious and affordable plant-based options. And governments must invest in the research and infrastructure we need to reduce prices and improve the quality of plant-based options, in order to deliver on their climate targets and enhance food security.”

GFI Europe’s report follows news last month on European food tech investments, which showed a decline in funding by 36 percent between 2021 and 2022. That report from DigitalFoodLab, also found that much of the decline came from a lack of “mega deals”

“In a word, investors and entrepreneurs are still massively putting their energy and money into the future of food,” co-founder and partner at DigitalFoodLab Matthieu Vincent, told Green Queen. “And more and more are choosing to do so in Europe.”


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