Leading Belgian supermarket chain expands plant-based offerings

Together with our Benelux and France Distributor, Piet Deceunynck, taaas BV, we keep an eye on local markets and important industry news. Here are some interesting developments in the Belgian retail market.

Albert Heijn (AH) has been recognized as the most vegan-friendly supermarket in Belgium. This honor, awarded by BE Vegan and ProVeg Belgium, highlights AH as the supermarket chain with the most extensive vegan offerings in Flanders and Brussels. The study assessed the availability of plant-based products in six major supermarket chains: Albert Heijn, Delhaize, Carrefour, Colruyt, Lidl, and Aldi.

Lidl Belgium, in particular, has been reducing prices of plant-based alternatives to match those of meat products, following successful initiatives in Austria, Hungary, and Denmark. As a result, Lidl saw a 30% increase in vegan product sales.

Albert Heijn’s Ambitious Goals

Albert Heijn aims to significantly expand its plant-based offerings, with a target of ensuring that 60% of consumer proteins are plant-based by 2030. Plans include doubling the number of alternative meat products, pricing them equal to or lower than conventional meat, and introducing over 150 new plant-based products to its current range of more than 1,000 items. The AH Terra brand, featuring over 200 products including 58 new product developments (NPDs), offers the largest and most diverse selection of plant-based options available from a supermarket chain.

“We offer our customers the opportunity to make more conscious and sustainable choices,” the company states.

According to its latest sustainability report, 44.1% of AH’s protein sales last year were plant-based, up from 42.6% in 2022. This growth reflects a rising interest in plant-based foods across its key markets in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The Protein Transition

The launch of AH Terra aims to encourage consumers, particularly flexitarians, to increase their consumption of plant-based proteins and reduce their intake of animal-based proteins. This initiative is part of AH’s broader goal to promote “the protein transition” for a sustainable food system.

Albert Heijn targets 50% of protein sales from vegetable sources by 2025, increasing to 60% by 2030. Currently, the proportion stands at 44%. In the coming years, AH Terra will expand its range to offer more alternatives and achieve these objectives.

“The products are tasty, affordable, and top quality. There is a plant-based alternative available for every meal—breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. If everyone eats plant-based one day a week, we can make significant progress in the protein transition”

Marit van Egmond, CEO of Albert Heijn.

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Which retail country markets are frontrunners in plant-based food offerings?

Several countries are frontrunners in the plant-based food market, driven by consumer demand, innovative product development, and supportive retail environments. Here are some of the leading countries:

United States: The U.S. market has seen significant growth in plant-based food offerings, with major retailers like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and even traditional grocery chains expanding their vegan product lines. The presence of numerous startups and established companies focusing on plant-based alternatives has further fueled this growth.

Germany: Germany is a leading market in Europe for plant-based foods, with a strong vegan movement and a high demand for vegetarian and vegan products. Supermarkets like REWE, Edeka, and discounters like Lidl and Aldi have extensive plant-based offerings.

United Kingdom: The UK has a robust market for plant-based foods, supported by major retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer. The UK’s “Veganuary” campaign, encouraging people to try veganism in January, has also significantly boosted the market.

Netherlands: Dutch supermarkets like Albert Heijn and Jumbo offer a wide range of plant-based products. The country is known for its innovation in the plant-based sector, with several homegrown companies producing vegan alternatives.

Canada: The Canadian market is growing rapidly, with increased availability of plant-based products in major grocery chains like Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro. Canada’s new food guide, which emphasizes plant-based eating, has also played a role in this trend.

Australia: Australia has a vibrant plant-based food market, with supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles significantly expanding their vegan product ranges. The country’s focus on health and sustainability drives consumer interest in plant-based foods.

Sweden: Swedish retailers such as ICA and Coop offer a broad selection of plant-based products. The country has a high level of awareness about sustainability and health, contributing to the popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets.

Belgium: Belgium is becoming increasingly notable in the plant-based market, with Albert Heijn recognized for its extensive vegan offerings. Other supermarkets like Delhaize and Carrefour are also expanding their plant-based ranges.

These countries are at the forefront of the plant-based food movement, driven by a combination of consumer demand, corporate sustainability goals, and supportive regulatory environments.

Source: ChatGPT, 26/06-2024