According to ProVeg, surcharges for plant-based alternatives are steadily decreasing as German retailers continue to adjust their prices.
This year’s ProVeg price study found that prices for plant-based alternative products are converging with those of their animal counterparts. The average price difference between a basket of plant-based products and a basket of animal-based products dropped from 53 to 25 percent in one year. In the meantime, four large retail chains have made price adjustments and now permanently offer animal and plant-based own-brand products at the same price.
First Lidl and Kaufland and now also Penny and Aldi Süd have permanently adjusted the prices of plant-based alternative products of their own brands to the prices of their animal counterparts. “The large retail chains have the opportunity to set standards. Consumers will measure all retailers against these standards from now on,” says the study’s Co-author Virginia Cecchini Kuskow.
What the receipt reveals
Between 21 and 27 August 2023, ProVeg examined the prices in 40 stores of six of the top-selling food retailers in Germany – Aldi Nord, Aldi Süd, Edeka, Kaufland, Lidl, and Rewe. Products in the twelve categories of cold cuts, bratwurst/sausages, burgers, fish fingers, minced meat, yogurt, cheese, cooking cream, milk, pizza, schnitzel, and spreadable cream (cream cheese) were examined. ProVeg is presenting the results at the New Food Conference in Berlin.
Plant-based milk, fish fingers, and schnitzel were able to keep up with their cheapest animal-based counterparts in terms of price in about half of the supermarkets and were just as cheap or even cheaper. In contrast, the price difference was particularly large for yogurt and vegetable-based spreads.
Plant-based alternative products can help consumers to switch to a more plant-based diet. Prices, however, have a great influence on consumer behaviour, especially in view of the persistently high inflation in the food sector. “A sustainable diet must not be a luxury good,” study author Dirk Liebenberg, Head of Food Industry & Retail at ProVeg, therefore never tires of emphasising.
The study criticises the fact that animal foods are often offered in bulk packaging at low prices per kilo, while bulk packaging for end consumers has been lacking for plant-based alternatives. Animal products also receive extensive subsidies and their pricing does not include the ecological and social follow-up costs of their production. “In a direct comparison, plant calories are subsidised too low and animal calories far too high,” also explains Prof. Dr. Jan Wirsam from the Berlin University of Applied Sciences.
Lidl, Kaufland, Penny, and Aldi Süd set new standard
ProVeg has long recommended that retailers create financial incentives for plant-based products to promote sustainable consumption. Politicians should permanently exempt all plant-based foods, including alternative products, from VAT. The nutrition organisation also criticises the heavy subsidisation of animal products.
Germany has the highest sales of plant-based foods in Europe. According to the current nutrition report of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the sales figures reflect the change in nutrition in this country. According to the report, just 20 percent of the population now consumes meat and sausage products on a daily basis, compared to 34 percent in 2015. The Rewe Group thus recently buried plans for a new large-scale butchery of its subsidiary Wilhelm Brandenburg in Hesse.
One in ten people in Germany already purchases plant-based alternative products every day, twice as many as in 2020. More than half of the population have already bought alternatives to animal products. According to the Federal Ministry of Food, the price also plays an important role – 57 percent of those surveyed explicitly look for inexpensive food.
More on the ProVeg price study at: www.proveg.com