In Spain, vegan meat is growing in both presence and popularity.
There are a few reasons for this, including meat shortages amid the pandemic. According to market research firm IRI, plant-based meat sales increased by 454 percent amid the pandemic compared to 2019.
Marc Coloma, the CEO of vegan meat brand Heura Foods, tells LIVEKINDLY that plant-based foods are also growing in popularity throughout Spain for environmental and health reasons too, similar to many other parts of the world.
“Until recently, Spain ranked second in Europe for meat consumption per capita,” he says. “But growing awareness about the impact that meat consumption has on our environment, as well as a desire to make healthier choices, has led to this incredible boom in the plant-based industry worldwide. And Spain is no exception.”
In 2020, the company expanded its retail presence internationally. Available in six countries in 2019, Heura Foods is now sold in 13.
Originally only available in specialty stores, Heura Foods recently expanded into Alcampo, the Spanish division of the international supermarket chain Auchan. “With this entry, we are currently in the three main national supermarket chains in Spain and regional chains like Caprabo and Bonpreu,” he continues.
“The fact that we were able to bring our products to seven new countries last year, despite the global pandemic, is further evidence of the incredible growth of the plant-based sector,” Coloma explains.
In addition to Heura, a number of vegan meat brands are now readily available in grocery stores across the country.
In 2019, Beyond Meat partnered with Spain’s largest supermarket chain—El Corte Ingles. Beyond Meat products are now available in more than 300 stores across the country. In supermarkets such as La Sirena, Sanchez Rimero, Hipercor, and Costco.
Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher entered the Spanish market in the fall of 2020. The Dutch brand’s products launched in a number of supermarkets, including El Corte Inglés, La Sirena, and Bon Preu.
Vegan Meat Gets a Boost in Spain
Since 2012, Spaniards have been steadily decreasing their consumption of animal-derived meat, according to the Netherlands’ Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. In 2018, the average Spaniard consumed about 2.9 percent less meat than in 2017.
Market research firm Research and Markets indicates Spain’s plant-based meat market will be worth more than $620 million by 2023. And the vegan meat sector has already gotten a boost from the country’s government.
In 2020, the government-backed NEOTEC technology fund financed Barcelona-based startup Foods for Tomorrow, creator of Heura Foods, with €250,000. It awarded the funding based on its market potential and due to the sustainable benefits of vegan meat.
The Spanish government has also invested €250,000 in Novameat. The Barcelona-based food tech startup uses 3D printing technology to create plant-based meat. It developed the world’s first 3D printed plant-based beef steak back in 2018 and pork fibrous meat in 2020. Novameat will use the funding to scale up the proprietary microextrusion technology it uses to produce its plant-based whole cuts.
In a press release sent to LIVEKINDLY, Novameat’s business development manager, Alexandre Campos, said: “With this investment, we will be able to accelerate the launching of our technology, and scale up beyond 3D printers, to produce thousands of kilograms of plant-based whole-cuts of meat per hour with microextrusion-based industrial machines.”
Even some of Spain’s biggest meat producers are entering the vegan meat market. In 2016, Noel Alimentaria—one of Spain’s leading meat companies—became the first major meat company in the country to offer plant-based options.
In 2020, it revealed it would be expanding its plant-based range, called Nature, with the launch of vegan veal and chicken.
“Here at Heura,” Coloma says, “We’re so excited about the incredible innovation that’s happening in the plant-based industry right now. And it shows no signs of slowing down.”