Rewe to Open First Fully Vegan Supermarket in Germany: Report

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German retail giant the Rewe Group is set to open its first 100% vegan supermarket in Germany, after introducing fully plant-based stores under its Billa supermarket chain in neighbouring Austria in 2022.

Rewe is on the verge of opening its first fully vegan supermarket in Germany this spring, located at the site of the former flagship store of Veganz in the Berlin-Friedrichshain area, according to a report by Supermarktblog.

While the company declined to confirm any plans for a new vegan store, and no trademark registration has been made for the same, the publication claims the name of the store is already attached to the facade. It has been covered during the construction work, but was temporarily visible.

The new concept will reportedly be called Rewe Fully Plant-Based, which ties in with the tagline ‘fully plant-based, totally good’ (this is also displayed in the entrance area that has now been covered up again).

Taking over from a fellow vegan supermarket

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/CC

The new Rewe plant-based store takes over from the flagship store of Veganz, which was the first fully vegan supermarket chain in Europe. The company closed this location in December, and has now turned its attention solely to product manufacturing. When announcing the decision to shutter the store, Veganz had indicated that it “successfully sold the last branch location on Warschauer Strasse in Berlin to a subsequent operator”, which has now emerged to be Rewe.

Supermarktblog claims that the establishment of a fully plant-based concept brings with it twofold benefits of familiarity and diversification. For years, people looking for vegan products in this area ended up at Veganz, but that habit will now transfer over to the new Rewe store. Additionally, this will help Rewe propel its new brand towards the mainstream, adding to its growing list of plant-based offerings.

The report also forecasts that if the Rewe Fully Plant-Based concept ends up being successful, the retailer could subsequently launch a corresponding initiative in Rewe Center stores nationwide. This would be in line with the approach it has taken with the vegan Pflanzilla brand under its Austrian subsidiary Billa. Rewe opened the first Billa Pflanzilla store in Vienna in 2022, followed by a pop-up location in Graz last November (which ended its run last month). In addition to this, it has integrated Pflanzilla World as a mini-section in 21 of its Billa Plus stores.

With over 1,400 products on offer, Billa Pflanzilla targets consumers under 30 with its branding and design, but Rewe Fully Plant-Based marks a departure from the puns (Pflanzilla refers to ‘plantilla’) after gaining in sight from the Austrian market and wider discussions about the negative connotations of the word ‘vegan’, instead placing emphasis on plant-based nutrition. Visually, too, the new Rewe store mirrors the monochrome font opted by the preceding Veganz store, but freshly painted bright green tones could dominate points of sale.

Rewe appeals to Germany’s growing plant-based footprint

Courtesy: Rewe Group

The move is the latest in Rewe’s expanding vegan footprint. It launched a plant-based meat counter in a Kaarst store after seeing a 45% hike in vegan sales in 2022, and rolled out vegan meat analogues at service counters in select stores. The company additionally has vegan private-label brands in Rewe Beste Wahl Vegan and Rewe Bio+Vegan, which are likely to lay the foundations for its Rewe Fully Plant-Based. One consumer poll showed that 58% of Rewe customers have bought vegan products previously, and 27% replace animal-derived foods with plant-based alternatives several times a week.

It mirrors Germans’ growing interest in veganism. The country represents Europe’s largest plant-based market, and is home to the most number of flexitarians in the continent, with estimates suggesting 40-55% of its population identifies as such. And a large EU-backed survey last year found that 59% of Germans ate less meat in 2022 than the year before – the joint-highest in the EU.

The government has also expressed support for alternative proteins, earmarking €38M in its 2024 its federal budget to promote the manufacturing and processing of plant-based, cultivated and fermented proteins, support a transition to plant-based farming, and open a Proteins of the Future centre.

And earlier this month, the German Society for Nutrition updated its dietary guidelines to recommend halving meat consumption, limiting dairy intake, and eating more plant-based foods. It suggested that the latter should make up at least 75% of German diets, but stopped short of a full endorsement of plant-based meat, which it said “often differs greatly from that of animal foods” in terms of nutrition. For milk alternatives, however, the organisation stated these can be used as long as they’re fortified with sufficient amounts of calcium, vitamin B12 and iodine.

Rewe, which has dropped the prices of plant-based products to either match or be cheaper than their animal-derived counterparts in Billa and Penny stores, will hope to appeal to Germany’s growing appetite for veganism with the new plant-based store in Berlin.

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