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Apr 30, 2021


Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Eat, drink & be mindful: Creating plant-based drinks for the German market

The desire to live more sustainably has permeated all parts of our lives, from where we live to how we travel. The food and drink industry is no different, with many consumers more aware than ever of the environmental impact of the products they consume.

Guy drinking cup of coffee behind laptop

Fuelled by increased awareness of the impact that food production has on the environment and a desire to decrease carbon emissions, the demand for plant-based foods and beverages has boomed over the past few years. Plant-based alternatives represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the F&B industry, with new plant-based product launches growing by a staggering 51% between 2015 and 2021[1].


Almost 90% of today's global consumers expect companies to invest in sustainable practices, up from 65% in 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to bolster that trend, as consumers have become more focused on significant global issues. The pressure placed on the industry during the pandemic also prompted manufacturers to look for ways to streamline their supply and production.


An opportunity arises

At the end of 2019, we conducted a series of wide-ranging interviews with customers to gain a better understanding of their formulation needs, with a particular focus on how we could help them to address environmental issues and promote a more sustainable production process. One of the main interests we observed was the increased demand for plant-based applications.

Plant-based drinks – or dairy-alternative beverages, drinkable yogurts, and shakes – is a burgeoning segment. Product launches within this segment increased by 9,1%[2] between 2015 and 2019 in response to more consumers looking for beverage products that are both lactose-free and vegan.


A refreshing challenge

Our team in Germany teamed up with our principal partner for enzyme solutions to innovate and create more sustainable and efficient plant-based formulations for a local beverage producer. Our IMCD researchers’ main challenge was to develop a formulation that is not only dairy-free but that tastes equally delicious as dairy equivalents, is nutritious, and has a minimal environmental impact.


Our team worked together with the supplier and the customer for 18 months. By the beginning of 2021, we had a range of formulation options ready to test and these will soon be making their way into products that hit the shelves of stores and supermarkets across Germany.

Green tastes good

The results of the project have been startling. Our IMCD Germany team managed to develop beverage solutions that are not only lactose-free and vegan, with a vastly minimised carbon footprint in that regard, but these solutions reduce production time by between 10% and 25%, while also simplifying the whole production process. The result is further cost and energy savings for the manufacturer.


"Projects like this one are the perfect opportunity for our R&D team to innovate and generate a real impact in the German food and beverage market," explains Business Unit Manager, Food & Nutrition Germany, Laura Alibani.


"Furthermore, we're really contributing towards a more sustainable world. We were able to develop a high-quality, environmentally-friendly product that enables cost savings within the production process, proving our commitment to supporting our customers in any way we can."


In that way, this project is a true reflection of what lies at the core of IMCD as a business: the opportunity to create better and more sustainable solutions that also translate into long-term commercial value for our customers.


To learn more about IMCD's Food & Nutrition business, our portfolio and our technical expertise, click here.




[1]Source: Innova Database; Innova Top Ten Trends Survey 2019 and 2020 (average of UK, US, Spain, France, Brazil, India, Germany, Mexico, China and Indonesia) 2020 YTD = Jan 2020 – Oct 2020


[2]Source: Innova Database; Innova Top Ten Trends Survey 2019 and 2020 (average of UK, US, Spain, France, Brazil, India, Germany, Mexico, China and Indonesia) 2020 YTD = Jan 2020 – Oct 2020