Russians increasingly opt for meat and dairy alternatives

Experts from INFOLine Group and the International Food and Drink Exhibition for Retail and HoReCa – WorldFood Moscow 2023 recently noted that the market for plant-based meat and dairy alternatives is growing. Production of such foods is on the rise, as are sales in supermarkets, the e-grocery segment and food service alike.

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Last year, global consumption of vegetable milk reached 10.2 mio metric tons (up 3.7% year on year) or $19.1 bln in value terms (up 6.3%).

“We see that health considerations remain among Russians’ priorities,” said Anastasia Sidorina, Client Manager at Romir research holding. “This is one of the reasons behind the growing buyer interest in plant-based products, in particular, plant-based milk and meat alternatives. While plant-based dairy products have already taken their niche and built a loyal customer base, the plant-based meat market is only gaining momentum, with buyer interest in this category of goods growing fast. This creates opportunities for retailers to carve out a niche in customer communication by offering unique ranges of plant-based products. According to the Romir Consumer Scan Panel, in the first quarter of 2023, sales of vegetable meat surged by 95% compared to the first quarter of 2022.

According to INFOLine research, vegetarians and people with lactose intolerance are no longer the only groups generating demand for such products; other consumers are joining them. Their most common reasons for making the switch are taste and health benefits.

“We are witnessing growing supply of plant-based products not only in retail, but also in the catering sector,” WorldFood Moscow 2023 Director Alexander Yezhov said. “It is also noteworthy that catering is the most typical channel for a consumer’s first exposure to plant-based products.”

Demand creates its own supply, and major retail chains are increasingly adding plant-based foods to their store brands, as do marketplaces. Lenta chain and OZON marketplace have recently introduced new plant-based drinks. Efko Group became the leader in making these alternative products after posting a 300% growth. (The company manufactures soy-based yoghurt drinks, vegan oil and drinks – Ed.).

“Every year, our INFOLine Bank of Novelties project discovers more new Russian products in the plant-based alternatives category, made by established suppliers such as Efko, Green Idea, or Welldone, as well as by new players,” said Svetlana Silenina, Head of Consumer Markets, INFOLine Group. “Interestingly, manufacturers of regular meat and dairy products are also expanding into this category, just as was the case in the West. One of the largest meat market players, ABI Product (the ABI brand), has added a new line of vegetable protein-based products, Foodgital from SweetiePie, including nuggets, chebureks, and cutlets. They use chickpeas, peas, and wheat as ingredients.”

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