Sales of vegan and vegetarian products in France have increased by 24 percent in the last year, according to a recent study by research body Xerfi.
The data – which focused on hypermarkets and supermarkets in the country – noted that the meat-free market was worth €380 million in 2018, and it’s set to keep growing. Xefri anticipates that the category will expand by 17 percent each year for the next two years, reaching a market value of €600 million in three years time.
Rising consumer awareness of the negative health effects of animal consumption and an “increased sensitivity” to welfare are contributing factors to the growth of the category, according to Xerfi.
An increasing number of meat-free options in Carrefour – one of the country’s leading supermarkets – is also a factor, noted the firm. The chain opened a new store in Paris last summer with one-third of the shop dedicated to vegan, organic, and gluten-free food.
French and Swiss giants Danone and Nestlé have also contributed to the category’s growth, launching more vegan products over the last year. In 2017, Nestlé even labeled plant-based eating a growing trend that’s “here to stay.”
“The multiplication of food scandals, the questioning of the supposed benefits of milk and meat, or the increased sensitivity to animal welfare have in fact pushed the French to turn away from meat products in favor of vegetable proteins,” noted Xefri.
“It is in this context that plant takes its ease on the shelves, installs [itself at] a la carte restaurants and invites [itself] more and more on our plates,” it added.
The report also credited the rise of small, independent meat-free and vegan brands for growing the category, noting that vegan and veggie food is so much more than “substitutes” now. For example, Petite Veganne, based in the Lorraine region, creates a variety of authentic cheeses – including Camembert – from nut-based milk.
“Vegetarian products are in the process of breaking free from their role as substitutes to build their own identity that manufacturers and distributors have every interest in developing to capture more value,” said the report.
Xefri credits the rise of flexitarianism for the growth of meat-free products in France. However, according to finance magazine Bloomberg, the French vegan movement is also finally growing. “French consumers are finally waking up, decades after everybody else,” Geoffroy Le Guilcher, an animal rights activist, told the publication last year.