The German’s are meat connoisseurs: bratwurst, blood sausage, liverwurst and mett, raw ground pork seasoned with fresh onions, salt and pepper.
Yet when looking at their startups you’d think otherwise: Germany’s food startups focus more on superfoods, smoothie powders and vegan ice cream, despite the country’s undeniable love of all things meat. Are founder’s missing out on a market opportunity?
This morning I wrote a message to friends of mine in a WhatsApp group chat: “Do you have recommendations for a cookbook with healthy, but easy, recipes?”
They answered promptly: Several friends recommended the best selling cookbook from Ella Woodward, a blogger from the UK, who specializes in vegan dishes. The ingredients? Almond paste, chia seeds and avocado. Meat, fish, sugar and additives are completely taboo.
When it comes to diet, my friends, who all grew up in big cities, are constantly exercising, eating vegetarian meals and enjoy reading about the newest trends on social media and in magazines, are not like the average consumer in Germany.
This is confirmed by the 2017 Nutrition report released by the Forsa Institute this week. One of the results: 97 per cent of respondents simply purchase what “tastes good,” without paying attention to sugar, fat or calories. The most popular food was – scoring higher than pizza and pasta – anything with meat. And one out of every two Germans is convinced that superfoods are just a short-lived fad.
After reading the report, one immediately wonders: Are Germany’s food startups even considering popular demand before developing and distributing their products?
Many young companies, including Nu2, Vitafy and KoRo Drogerie, sell superfoods and dietary supplements. And there is no limit to the number of startups, that exclusively sells superfood powders, powders made from drying out nutrient-rich foods: Lebepur, Berlin Organic and Goodme are a few examples.
There are startups for vegan ice cream, Lycka, cooking oil from algae, Lüttge, healthy meal bars made of oatmeal, Hafervoll, and even honey in an envelope, Nearbees.
Not to mention the many companies selling detox teas: Teatox, Tree of Tea, fittea and Teatales. All these companies want to make us better eaters, or drinkers – a commendable goal.
Still I have to ask myself: Where are the startups that are developing and selling food products for the average consumer? For example, frozen foods that look and taste so good that someone would gladly eat them on a daily basis and, on occasion, even serve them to their guests? The French supermarket Picard is making it happen. And what about a drink, without additives, that keeps a person full for hours? Or what about burger buns and french fries, that don’t disintegrate or become rubbery after just a few minutes, making them suitable for delivery?
What about startups that sell the German specialty mett? Served in the shape of cute little animals, for example? There is no denying that serving this at a German office party would be a hit!
And do people really want meat that is made of vegetables? The US-based startups Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat are currently developing these exact products. But let’s be honest, vegetables made out of meat would be way better received.
There simply aren’t any food startups with business models for people other than hippie-esque, city-living folks.
I am familiar with all the arguments: superfoods and detox teas bring a higher margin. People living in metropolitan areas, who earn a lot of money, closely monitor their diet and follow food trends; this makes them an readily available target group.
Plus, products like teas and smoothie powder are easily packaged and delivered; they don’t go bad the way meat does. They are ideal E-commerce products that make founding a business easy.
However, in the coming years, it would be great to see a really successful food startup in Germany. Surely it would help if the founders, at least every once in awhile, oriented themselves to what the masses want?
This article originally appeared on NGIN FOOD (German).
Translation by Christine G. Coester