With Germans consuming less dairy than ever before, it is unsurprising that coffee shop operators, including Espresso House, Tchibo, Starbucks and Coffee Fellows, have made plant-based dairy alternatives more accessible for customers
There is a growing shift towards vegetarianism and veganism across Germany | Photo credit: Nina Strehl
Milk consumption in Germany fell to a new record low last year, according to the Federal Information Centre for Agriculture, with rising dairy prices and the increased adoption of vegan diets leading more consumers to consider oat-, soy- and almond-based dairy alternatives.
Despite Germany’s long tradition of high meat consumption, there is a growing shift towards vegetarianism and veganism across Germany, particularly in large cities such as Berlin and Hamburg. The Federal Association of the German Food Industry found that one in five new products introduced in domestic supermarkets last year were vegan.
With Germans consuming less dairy than ever before, it is unsurprising that coffee shop operators have been introducing and promoting more plant-based dairy alternatives.
Scandinavian coffee chain Espresso House, which reached a goal of 50% of its food and beverage menu being available as plant-based across its 500 stores last year, extended an existing partnership with Oatly to serve Oatly Barista Edition across its coffee shops in May 2022, including its 38 stores in Germany.
The nation’s larger chains have followed suit, with Tchibo making Oatly Barista Edition available in its 450 German stores, albeit with a surcharge of €0.50 ($0.50), after its in-house research indicated that 53% of customers would use plant-based milk variants if they were more readily available.
In March 2023, US coffee giant Starbucks removed its surcharge for almond, coconut, oat or soy dairy alternatives across its 155 outlets in Germany, although it still charges up to $0.80 for dairy substitutes in most other markets globally. Sustainability-focused Coffee Fellows scrapped its surcharge for dairy alternatives across its 216 German stores the following month.
Industry leaders surveyed by World Coffee Portal cited sustainability having a strong relevance in Germany’s 6,800-strong branded coffee shop market, to the extent that it often feels mandatory.
However, with the market set to exceed 7,000 outlets by 2028, industry leaders also suggest that progression needs to become more holistic, broadening its focus from the carbon footprint of plant-based dairy alternatives to consider the wider environmental impact of the coffee supply chain.