Popularity of meat replacements soars in NL, meat sales decrease

Popularity of meat replacements soars in NL, meat sales decrease

The popularity of meat replacements has soared during the last two years, with market research bureau IRI Nederland reporting a 51 percent increase in supermarket sales. Meat, on the other hand, is experiencing a decrease in sales.

Veggie alternatives rising up

Whilst veggie alternatives to meat saw a huge increase in sales, the sale of meat products actually saw a decline. In fact, since 2017, there has been a decrease of around 9 percent in the sale of game, pork and beef products. Chicken sales, however, saw an increase of 2 percent in this period. A downwards trend is, nonetheless, occurring for this type of meat, with purchases dropping by 0,4 percent in the first half of 2019.

The popularity of veggie alternatives is clear if you visit some of the bigger supermarket chains in the Netherlands, where the range has practically exploded. At Albert Heijn and Jumbo, the assortment of veggie options has grown to 100 and 200 different products respectively. For Albert Heijn, this is a growth of 33 percent since 2016.

In the last 52 weeks, 123 million euros was spent on meat substitutes, this is 4,5 percent of the total spend of 2,6 billion on meat products. One of the reasons consumers are choosing meat substitutes is climate change, along with animal welfare. Meat replacements are significantly less polluting than their traditional meat counterparts. One kilo of beef, for example, causes over 57,9kg of CO2 emissions, whilst the same amount of tofu only accounts for 5,8kg of CO2. A kilo of the average veggie burger is good for even less CO2 emissions, at 4,1kg.

The meat industry is changing

The meat industry is changing and even some butchers are, albeit reluctantly, adopting the meat substitute trend. And the market has become so interesting that even large meat producers are jumping on the bandwagon to get a piece of the pie. This year, Bolscher, a meat processing business in Enschede, is bringing out a vegetarian line, and hope it will equate to a quarter of their turnover by 2029.

Zwanenberg is another meat business with big vegetarian goals. In the future, their goal is to have 50 percent of turnover come from meat substitute products. “The acquisition of the Unox-factory was a big step towards this goal. For Unox, we make vegetarian smoked sausage and soups and sauces without fish or meat”, said a Zwanenberg spokesperson. If you include the vegetarian products made by subsidiary Kips, 30 percent of the turnover for Zwanenberg is already created by the vegetarian division.

It’s not just in the Netherlands, that the meat industry landscape is changing either; the emergence of meat substitutes internationally is undeniable. Beyond Meat, a popular American producer of meat substitutes, experienced a 300 percent growth in the second quarter of this year: from 17 million dollars in Q2 2018 to 67 million dollars for the same period in 2019.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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