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Meat free trend means growth for businesses

An increasing number of Danes choose to replace their steak or chicken fillet with vegetarian alternatives like tofu and falafel. Food companies such as Daloon are following the new demand and see major potential.
Kale and other vegetables are gaining ground on Danish dinner tables.

Publiceret: 31.05.2017
Af Niels Brandt Petersen mail

About three years ago when food company Daloon distributed the first packs of “meat free vegetable patties” to Danish supermarkets, the company had no idea how big their sales would be.

In a single year, sales of the vegetarian patties grew by 144 per cent. And while Daloon expanded its vegetarian line, the sales boom has continued. From 2015 to 2016, sales of the product range rose by 27 per cent.

“We have big expectations for the vegetarian trend that has now really taken hold among Danish consumers,” says Lars Kousgaard, Nordic Sales and Marketing Manager at Daloon.

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Almost half of revenue

He explains that Daloon in the UK experienced a significant increase in sales of vegetarian alternatives a few years earlier. This is a development that has slowly spread to Denmark.

“In Denmark, vegetarian meals still constitute a minor part of our total sales, while our colleagues at Daloon UK have experienced a completely different growth, because the British market for vegetarian dishes started three-four years before the Danish market. From 2013, when vegetarian meals were essentially non-existent at Daloon UK, the range has grown to make up nearly 45 per cent of total revenue there,” says Lars Kousgaard, who expects an increase of about 20 per cent per year in Denmark.

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Animal welfare not the only reason

According to Coop, sales of vegetarian products such as falafel and tofu in Coop’s supermarkets increased by 30 per cent between 2014 and 2015 and by 51 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

Meanwhile, the number of adult Danes who have a meat free day one to seven times per week has risen from 17 per cent in 2010 to 21 per cent in 2016.

Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl, Secretary General at the Danish Vegetarian Association believes that the changing consumer habits are more than a trend. It is a mega-trend that is here to stay.

“We are seeing a public interest that is, in addition to animal ethics and health, also currently very much about a sustainable environment and the global perspective in cutting down on meat consumption. This trend is here to stay,” says Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl.

He is pleased that Danish food companies are today keen to produce alternatives to pork chops and hamburger patties.

“When businesses get going, it means there is money in it. And when we look to other countries, Denmark is indeed behind, so it’s only natural that we move in that direction,” says Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl. 

Following along closely

The development means that many companies like Daloon are busy developing new products and trying to gain foothold in the growing vegetarian market.

“It is a significant increase that we are following closely, and we are in the process of developing products for it, in collaboration with consumers,” says Trine Søndergaard, Strategic Marketing Manager at Orkla Foods Danmark, the company behind brands such as Beauvais, K-Salat and Pastella, among others.

Trine Søndergaard expects that within one to two years, Orkla Food will have a number of products on the market that can provide consumers with meat-free alternatives.

“The traditional meals we also have in our repertoire are centred on meat. We are therefore considering how cabbage, beans and other ingredients can become the focal point in the product. This is easier said than done, however, because it is also about habits, and it will undoubtedly take some time before we find the right solution,” says Trine Søndergaard.

Orkla Food currently expects that 25 per cent of Danish consumers will have one to two meat free days per week in 2025.

“There are many Danes who want to and will change their consumer habits, and like many other food companies, this is something we are taking into account,” says Trine Søndergaard.

Great advances in development

The Danish Food and Drink Federation, like the food industry, expects an increase in vegetarian products and can clearly sense that companies are interested in the new agenda.

“We are seeing more companies that wish to cater to the new demands. And in many places, companies have made great advances in relation to the development of meat free products or meat alternatives,” says Director Leif Nielsen, Danish Food and Drink Federation.

He also emphasises, however, that despite the new development, meat dishes on Danish dinner tables are not under threat. According to Coop, the vegetarian range still constitutes less than 1 per cent of the supermarket chain’s sold products.

“The biggest trend is what you could call a ‘dualistic lifestyle’. Many customers who buy vegetarian products also still buy meat, because although we might abide by the ‘meatless Mondays’ slogan and forego meat that day, there is still meat on the table the rest of the week,” says Leif Nielsen.

The biggest trend is what you could call a ‘dualistic lifestyle’. Many customers who buy vegetarian products also still buy meat.
DIRECTOR LEIF NIELSEN, DANISH FOOD AND DRINK FEDERATION
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PUBLISHED: 5/31/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 6/2/2017