Plant-based food cheaper overall than meat and dairy in Dutch supermarkets

Dutch shoppers can save up to 20% when buying plant-based foods

 

Plant-based meat and dairy products are now cheaper overall than conventional meat and dairy products in nearly all Dutch supermarkets, according to a study conducted by research body Questionmark on behalf of food awareness organisation, ProVeg Netherlands.  

Pablo Moleman, Director of ProVeg Netherlands, said the new research was very welcome news for people trying to reduce their meat consumption.

“In 2022, consumers were still having to pay more for some plant-based products. The latest research reveals that pricing has changed for the better and a shopping basket of plant-based products will be  generally cheaper in nearly all Dutch supermarkets,” Moleman said. 

“As consumers struggle with the cost-of-living, it will be reassuring for shoppers that they do not need to pay extra to embrace a more climate-friendly and animal-friendly lifestyle,” Moleman added. 

Up to €9.66 cheaper 

Questionmark compared the prices of shopping baskets filled with the 12 most common product types, including vegetarian meatballs, plant-based cheese and plant-based yogurt. 

The cheapest plant-based version was always compared with the cheapest animal-based counterparts of the same products in seven supermarkets: Albert Heijn, Aldi, Dirk, Jumbo, Lidl, Plus and Ekoplaza. 

The price advantage for plant-based foods can be up to €9.66 at Ekoplaza, a saving of no less than 20%. At Jumbo and Lidl, the price-conscious consumer also benefits from a cheaper plant-based shopping basket (€3.89 and €3.11 respectively). Only at Dirk does the consumer pay €0.18 more for a basket filled with plant-based products.

“Previous research has shown that price is a major obstacle for consumers to choose plant-based products. Because plant-based shopping in the large supermarkets is now cheaper, there is no longer a financial barrier to making the sustainable choice. This is an important turning point for the protein transition,” Moleman said. 

Prices converging in Germany and Belgium

Similar studies commissioned by ProVeg in Belgium and Germany in 2023 showed that prices of plant-based and animal-based foods are converging there as well, with more and more plant based products reaching or crossing the point of ‘price parity’ with their animal-based counterparts. 

But at the time of these studies, this convergence did not lead to consumers saving money overall on all accounts. In Germany, in October 2023 a plant based shopping basket was still on average 25% more expensive than an animal based one – down from 53% in 2022. 

In Belgium, in March 2023, plant-based shopping baskets were found to be cheaper in three retailers (Aldi, Lidl and Colruyt) with savings between €1,21-2,30, but in another (Carrefour) the plant-based basket was found to be no less than €5,93 more expensive, with Delhaize still being slightly more expensive at €0,32. It remains to be seen whether Belgian and German retailers have since moved closer to price parity.  

Equal price for meat substitutes, not yet for dairy alternatives

Although consumers pay less overall for plant-based groceries, there are still large price differences between product categories. 

In the meat substitute category, the plant-based alternative is often cheaper, while plant-based cottage cheese and yogurt are always more expensive than their animal counterpart. 

For 500g plant-based cottage cheese, the consumer pays between €0.75 and €1.50 extra, and for 500g plant-based yogurt, the consumer has to pay between €0.60 – €1.45 more than for the animal version. It is striking that a plant-based alternative to cheese is a lot cheaper at almost every supermarket.

Supermarkets adjust policy

The price differences can partly be explained by inflation, which hits animal products harder. An interim report from ProVeg and Questionmark showed in mid-2022 that plant-based minced meat, burgers and chicken pieces suddenly became cheaper than their animal counterparts due to inflation. 

However, another explanation is that supermarkets are consciously taking steps to eliminate or reduce the price differences between animal and plant-based products. Jumbo established a policy in November 2023 that private label meat substitutes will be offered at the same or lower price as the animal alternative. This is reflected in the research results.

Jumbo is the first retailer in the Netherlands to implement a ‘price parity’ policy, coupling the prices of meat substitutes to their animal counterparts. Internationally, several retailers have taken similar steps. In the United Kingdom, Co-op claimed to be the first to make such a commitment in 2021. More recently, Lidl Germany did the same and Lidl Austria followed suit.

“We encourage supermarkets in the Netherlands and abroad to follow these good examples. We also ask supermarkets not only to focus on meat substitutes in their policy, but also to look at the pricing of alternatives to dairy. It is difficult to explain that a carton of soy yogurt is almost twice as expensive as cow’s yogurt, while soy milk and cow’s milk are the same price,” Moleman said. 

Supermarkets aiming for more plant-based product on shelves 

The Dutch supermarkets have also set goals to change the ratio of animal and plant-based proteins on the shelves. 

Aldi, Dirk and Ekoplaza are aiming for a 50/50 ratio by 2030. Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Lidl and Plus are raising the bar and aiming for 60% plant-based and 40% animal-based. Although steps are being taken to achieve this objective, policies are still being pursued that hinder the achievement of the goals.

ENDS

 

Note for editors:

The full report, in Dutch, can be found here. Previous studies commissioned by ProVeg in pricing can be found here

For media inquiries about the report, contact Pablo Moleman at [email protected].

For general media inquiries, email Peter Rixon or Jillian LaBruzzo at [email protected]

About ProVeg International

ProVeg International is a food awareness organisation with the mission to replace 50% of animal products globally with plant-based and cultivated foods by 2040. Our vision is a world where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for all humans, animals, and our planet. 

 

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