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Production of bread Production of bread | © Eric Gevaert -

Food & Beverage Industry

Supplying the Full Spectrum of Consumer Needs

Few industries are as broad as the food & beverage industry, but Germany does well on all fronts: confectionery, convenience, frozen, and chilled foods.

Our market - Europe's largest - brings almost every international food player here; everyone wants a taste. This strength is only expected to improve as consumption trends and the good reputation of our products promise higher future sales. For investors, the time is ripe. A mainly fragmented industry allows overseas investors access to the market, its distribution channels, and its technological capabilities.

Video News: Germany's Growing Market for Meatless

The trend toward veganism and vegetarianism is creating tons of business opportunities for international companies with a presence in the country.

Meatless on More and More German Menus

With increasing numbers of people turning partially or completely vegetarian and vegan, the plant-based food market is expanding rapidly in Germany. International companies like Switzerland’s Planted are taking advantage.

Food News | March 2022

Germany's food and beverage market has secured its latest unicorn. A number of innovative start-ups are also benefiting from demand for meat- and milk-free food products and restaurant chains continue to expand.

Berlin foodtech becomes latest unicorn

Berlin-based foodtech start-up Infarm claims it has achieved unicorn status after its most recent funding round. The urban farming company raised around EUR 178 million from investors including the Qatar Investment Authority, Atomico and private equity firm Lightrock. The new funding is expected to help the company expand into the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. The start-up, which grows plants in large-scale facilities before putting them in supermarket glass cases before harvesting, currently operates in 50 cities and 11 countries. Infarm hopes to operate around 100 central plant facilities by 2030.

Big Mamma to launch in Summer 2022

French trattoria operator Big Mamma is set to launch in Germany in early summer. The gastro entrepreneur will open its first trattoria in Munich, with plans to open ten restaurants per year in the next five years. The group currently operates restaurants in 17 locations across Europe.

US burger chain meets 2021 target and plans new expansion

US burger chain Five Guys has announced ambitious expansion plans for the current year having met its 2021 target. The company opened 12 new units last year, bringing its number of outlets in Germany to 31 in total. The franchise operation has identified the next 60 to 70 sites as part of its strategy of opening between 10 to 12 new restaurants each year.

Hamburg start-up develops palm oil alternative

A Technical University of Hamburg spin-off has developed a process using agricultural and industrial waste products to provide a yeast-based mass market alternative to palm oil. Colipi is producing oils and proteins through a natural fermentation process that puts wild type yeast cells to work. The company believes that its circular platform approach and carbon capture and utilization technology allows oil and protein raw materials to be produced with a minimal environmental footprint. The start-up has received public funding since 2021 as part of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action “Exist” research transfer program.

Emsland Group benefits from milk- and meat-free boom

One of the world’s largest manufacturers of potato starch has successfully diversified its product portfolio to benefit from the boom in meat-free food products. Refined starch specialist Emsland Group is best known for processing two million tons of potatoes annually. However, since 2018, the company has benefited from the sharp uptake in demand for pea proteins used in meat-free burgers and milk-alternative green legume drinks and shakes. Demand in Germany for animal substitute products topped EUR 375 million in 2020, with the trend showing no sign of abating thanks to 7.5 million vegetarians in the domestic population. The once troublesome pea-protein byproduct is driving company growth as supermarket demand for milk alternatives and pea-based drinks continues to grow. . The company generate turnover of more than 650 million euros annually – 80 percent of which in markets outside Germany.

Foodtech start-up secures EUR 1.8 million seed funding

Foodtech start-up Keen 4 Greens has secured EUR 1.8 million in seed funding as part of its plans to scale up its mycelium production. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus that grows outward in search of water and nutrients. The start-up has succeeded in cultivating the mycelium of an edible mushroom in a self-developed bioreactor for vegan food production. The development allows the company to be more independent of the wheat and pea-protein market while producing a real vegan alternative for use in meat-free burgers and other products.

Munich start-up’s sustainable chocolate alternative

Munich start-up Qoa has produced the world’s first 100 percent cocoa-free chocolate alternative. The company claims that Qoa is ten times more sustainable than conventional chocolate with no loss in flavor. Investors raised EUR 5.2 million in seed funding for the project that makes use of food industry by-products – from oat and grain production – that are fermented with special microorganisms and then roasted.

Latest Publication

The Food & Beverage Industry in Germany The Food & Beverage Industry in Germany | © GTAI

The Food & Beverage Industry in Germany

The German food and beverage market offers business opportunities on all fronts, because it's highly receptive to new cultural influences and culinary trends.

Our Industry in Numbers

  • Germany is Europe's largest food producer and the food & beverage industry represents the fourth largest industry sector in Germany.
  • The industry is best characterized by its small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector of over 6,000 companies, generating a production value of around EUR 180 billion in 2018.
  • Exports of processed foods and agricultural commodities generated sales of EUR 71.5 billion in 2018, making Germany the third largest exporter of food and beverages worldwide.
  • Largest sector sub-segments in 2018: Meat (23.7%), Dairy (15.1%), Baked Goods (9.7%), and Confectionery & Long-Life Bakery Products (7.6%).
  • Germany is home to major national and international players including the Dr. Oetker Group, Südzucker, Arla, Mondelēz Deutschland, Nestlé, Cargill, and many more.

Testimonials to Success

Mehmet Er, Managing Director | Tadim Deutschland GmbH

Mehmet Er, Managing Director Tadim Deutschland GmbH Mehmet Er, Managing Director Tadim Deutschland GmbH | © Tadim Deutschland GmbH/GTAI

"Tadim has made a significant move by investing in Germany. We are confident that it will prove to be a value-adding one because of Germany's attractiveness as a production location and the optimal logistics for serving international markets. To this end, we particularly liked Emsdetten because of its central location. We hope to expand our market position in Europe as well as just in Germany and we are already processing and distributing to neighbouring countries." (2016) More Information

Gerhard Berssenbrügge, Former Chief Executive Officer* | Nestlé Germany AG

Gerhard Berssenbrügge, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé Germany AG Gerhard Berssenbrügge, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé Germany AG | © Nestlé Germany AG/GTAI

“We deliberately chose Germany and Schwerin for the construction of our third coffee capsule factory. The decisive factors were the favorable geographical location, the close proximity to the world's largest coffee-trading center Hamburg, the ease of access to northern Europe as well as the high density of skilled workers in the region.” (*2014)

Market | Industrial Infrastructure

With around 83 million inhabitants, Germany represents a very receptive market for national and international food & beverage products. Its excellent geographical position (with access to all European markets) and its technological leadership make Germany the best point of entrance to the European food & beverage market. Demand for functional foods alone has established Germany as a European leader, with the organic food segment experiencing a growth of 5.5 percent in sales reaching almost EUR 11 billion in 2018. Thanks to the unbeatable popularity of German products abroad, the industry is expected to maintain its steep growth curve in the years ahead.

Fragmentation in the existing food & beverage industry landscape means that barriers to entry in the German market are negligible. In addition, the presence of numerous companies along the entire food-processing value chain makes it easy for newcomers to find suppliers, distributors, and other valuable partners.

Germany offers a particularly positive market environment for producers of food ingredients and additives of almost all kinds. The size of the industry paralleled by evolving consumer needs and growing exports lead to a vibrant demand for new ingredients and formulations incl. e.g. flavors, sweeteners, stabilizers, emulsifier or fragrances. As most products are used across various sub-segments of the industry, the market and investment potential is tremendous and even likely to increase in the future.

Production Value of the German Food & Beverage Industry by Segment 2018 (in percent) | Federation of German Food and Drink Industries, 2017_2018
Production Value of the German Food & Beverage Industry by Segment 2018 (in percent) | Federation of German Food and Drink Industries, 2017_2018 | © Production Value of the German Food & Beverage Industry by Segment 2018 (in percent) | Federation of German Food and Drink Industries, 2017_2018

Market | Trends

Recent consumer trends have, above all, been influenced by a number of far-reaching changes in society. An aging population is fueling the demand for health & wellness as well as functional food products to prevent or overcome conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. Two-thirds of all Germans see a direct link between nutrition and health.

The movement towards organic food products has long since achieved mainstream status in Germany. More and more consumers are seeking to improve their sense of well-being, health, and even their performance levels through the consumption of functional food products. An increasingly fast-paced society and the rising number of single households is driving demand for highly convenient foods including ready-to-eat meals, frozen foods, desserts, and baked goods.

Other trends include the sales of fair trade products, such as coffee and fruit juices, which tripled to more than 1.6 billion euro between 2012 to 2018. Ethnic foods, beauty foods, and “free of” foods (e.g. lactose and gluten-free products) are further trends currently finding favor with Germany’s increasingly discerning consumer base.

Development of Food Retail Sales in Germany by Segment (2017/2018, change in percent) | GfK/Statista, 2019
Development of Food Retail Sales in Germany by Segment (2017/2018, change in percent) | GfK/Statista, 2019 | © Development of Food Retail Sales in Germany by Segment (2017/2018, change in percent) | GfK/Statista, 2019

Personnel | R&D

Germany has a large pool of highly qualified and motivated employees and offers competitive labor costs compared to both western and eastern Europe.

R&D and innovation spending in the German food & beverage industry is expected to reach EUR 3 billion in 2019. Product innovations account for 15 percent of total annual sales of the German food & beverages market. Numerous well-known universities and public and private research institutes help companies in the food & beverage industry research, develop, and swiftly bring new and innovative products to market.

Marc Rohr Marc Rohr | © GTAI/Illing & Vossbeck Fotografie

"Germany is Europe’s largest food & beverage market and a superb location for exports."

Marc Rohr | Director Service Industries

Incentives | Physical Infrastructure | Stable Investment Environment

Germany offers numerous incentives for all investors - regardless of country of origin. There are a large selection of programs available designed to support a wide variety of business activities at different stages of the investment process. Support ranges from cash incentives for the reimbursement of direct investment costs to incentives for labor and R&D.
We offer an extensive and comprehensive logistics infrastructure that integrates state-of-the-art transportation networks with the most modern telematics, IT, and telecommunications systems.

Social, economic, and political stability provide a solid base for your investment projects. Our judiciary and civil services are highly professional. Contractual agreements are secure and intellectual property is strictly protected in Germany.

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