Study: Consumers are becoming more flexible

Consumers are becoming more flexible

Imago Images / Jochen Tack
More and more consumers are turning to alternatives. There are different reasons for this depending on age and gender.
More and more consumers are turning to alternatives. There are different reasons for this depending on age and gender.

GERMANY, Berlin. One in two consumers temporarily goes without meat or even does without it altogether. The reasons for this vary according to age and gender, as a recent study by Forsa shows.

Germans' eating habits are changing fundamentally, with more and more consumers turning away from meat. In Germany, one in two already "at least sometimes consciously abstains from meat products." This was stated by a total of 53% of consumers surveyed by the German Forsa Institute in a recent study.

Forsa surveyed more than 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 75. The survey was commissioned by poultry specialist PHW, i.e. a traditional meat processor. However, the PHW Group has been active in the young market for meat-free burgers, veggie cold cuts and fish substitutes since 2015, so the Forsa survey covered all of the Group's divisions.

Most respondents tend to show flexibility in their diet; 44% would describe their own diet as flexitarian, while 8% see themselves as vegetarian and just 1% as vegan. Particularly between the sexes differences can be observed according to the survey. With the women nourish themselves accordingly approximately two thirds (63%) at least sometimes meatlessly, while only 43% of the men do this.

Vegans are younger people

Independently of it the age plays a role with the eating habits: The proportion of vegans and vegetarians is particularly higher among younger generations and decreases with age. Thus of the asked 18 to 29-year-olds 14% are vegetarian and 3% vegan. With the 60 to 75-year-olds only 5% describe themselves as vegetarians and vegans aren’t common. The so-called flexitarians become more popular: In the younger age group 35% are flexitarian, in the older age group its up to 55%.

When flexitarians eat meat, what kind of meat do they eat?

By contrast, according to Forsa, there are only minor regional differences; overall, the distribution in the east and west Germany is balanced. In addition, the size of the city influences the proportion of vegetarians. As the number of inhabitants increases, more people describe their eating style as vegetarian.

According to the survey, there are at most only minor differences in terms of income when it comes to giving up meat. The situation is different for household sizes. Smaller households with one or two people are more likely to be flexitarian (44 and 47%, respectively) and vegetarian (10 and 9%, respectively) in their diet than multi-person households with four or more people. There, flexitarians tend to be underrepresented at 37% and vegetarians at 5%.

The study also provides answers to the question of why consumers eat a meat-free diet. Three main reasons emerge: 60% of respondents cite sustainability and animal welfare, while health aspects are decisive for 49%.

Health is the most important factor for older people

Age plays a role in the reasons for meat abstinence: the younger generation of 18- to 29-year-olds mainly cites sustainability and environmental protection as reasons for a vegetarian or vegan diet (80%). With advancing age, however, it is increasingly a question of health. Nearly two thirds of the 60 to 75-olds call health reasons above all.

There are also different reasons for not eating meat between the sexes. While men (59%) and women (60%) still agree on the issue of sustainability, the main reasons for giving up meat tends to be animal welfare for women (65%) and the health aspects for men (55%).

Half of the flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans surveyed already use substitute products for meat. Most popular are thereby the inexpensive Tofu (22%), meatless minced meat (20%) and cold cuts (18%). In second place are substitute products for schnitzel (14%), burgers (13%), sausages (13%), meatballs (12%), nuggets (12%), cutlets/strips (11%) and fried sausages (9%).

Ingredients play an important role in such alternative products. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) want products free of genetic engineering. One in three buys products that are free of palm fat. Flavor enhancers are also frowned upon. And a quarter of those surveyed do not want any animal ingredients such as eggs or dairy products, i.e. a completely vegan meat substitute.

Source: Andreas Chwallek,


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