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Food and drink

Spotlight on the food and drink sector in Germany

Market Information

With around 83 million inhabitants, Germany represents a very receptive market for international food and drink products.

Germany is Europe's largest food producer and the food and drink industry represents the fourth largest industry sector in Germany.

In the food and drink industry, around 6,150 companies generate an annual turnover of 186 billion euros. With over 638,000 employees, this sector is Germany‘s fourth-largest industry. The German food and drink industry is the leading one in Europe.

Market Trends

The food and drink market in Germany is characterised by a number of trends, including:

Organic Food

Demand for organic food in Germany has for a long time exceeded the country’s capacity to supply. More and more German consumers are looking for organic labels when shopping for food. With sales of around EUR 16 billion in 2021, Germany is Europe’s largest organic food market. 2021, demand for organic meat alone rose by almost 20 percent. Overall, the organic food sector recorded an increase in sales of EUR 880 million in 2021.

In 2022, German consumers spent 15.31 billion euros on organic food and beverages. This is an increase of more than 25 percent compared to the pre-Corona year 2019. During the pandemic many consumers came to place a high value on organic. In the wake of the sharp rise in inflation, however, they are now more price-conscious in their purchases.

Health and wellness

German consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious and interested in products that promote wellness and healthy lifestyles. This has led to a growing demand for natural, organic, and functional food and drinks.


German consumers are also placing increasing importance on sustainability, with a growing focus on environmentally-friendly and socially responsible products. This includes a demand for products that are locally sourced, reduce waste, and use eco-friendly packaging.


German consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for high-quality and premium food and drink products, with a growing demand for artisanal and craft products, particularly in the areas of craft beer, specialty coffee, and premium spirits.


The busy and fast-paced lifestyle of German consumers has led to a growing demand for convenient and time-saving food and drink products, such as ready-made meals and on-the-go snacks.

Alternative diets

There is growing interest in alternative diets, such as veganism and vegetarianism, as well as a demand for gluten-free and dairy-free products.


Many people spent the lockdown in home-office.  The traditional classical split of breakfast/lunch/dinner has merged into smaller portions of snack food, to be consumed whenever time was available. Food experts see this as healthier than eating at 3 larger eating events.  Snack food is moving rapidly from an unhealthy to a more healthy basis (smaller portions, higher quality) indeed similar to Spanish tapas or Asian food.  Like home-office, this trend is here to stay and is a big opportunity for food retail and foodservice.

Immediate delivery

Home delivery of groceries before lockdown was a more or less underdeveloped business which post lockdown could not cope with the unexpected demand.  Nowadays, deliveries normally work within 2 or 3 days of ordering.  However, may people are not prepared to plan so far ahead and want to live a more spontaneous life.

The German consumer

  • Expects high quality products at discount prices
  • Prides themselves on being green – therefore willing to pay more for sustainable, locally sourced, free range, natural, organic, fair trade and carbon neutral products
  • Is devoted to the discounters – highest share globally – very small margins
  • Not very experimental. Germans are traditional buyers
  • Due to aging population and changing demographics demand for convenience, health, wellness and luxury products are drivers impacting the future trends in food retailing

Retail landscape

Germany is Europe’s largest food retail market. The effects of the pandemic are diminishing in the German grocery trade. In 2021 the large groups became larger and the smaller ones became smaller. EDEKA, Rewe, Schwarz-Group and Aldi (incl.North and South) dominate and continue their growth, albeit at a slower rate.

The Top 4 accounted domestically for over €205 bn and 74.8% market share. This is both food and non-food. Food in 2021 accounted for €175 bn or 85% of total.

Top 10 food retailers in Germany 2022
Company Turnover 2021 (in Mio. Euro) Difference in turnover
Edeka (Netto) 68.835 +2.7%
REWE Group (REWE, Penny) 56.345 +1.6%
Schwarz Gruppe (Lidl, Kaufland) 48.570 +6.3%
Aldi (Aldi Süd, Aldi Nord) 30.900 +1.6%
dm 9.040 +7.8%
Rossmann 7.900 +7.8%
Real 6.350 -17,5%
Globus 5.267 +0.5%
Bartels-Langness Gruppe 5.087 +4.4%
METRO 5.055 -3.0%

Organic and vegan supermarkets

Conventional food retailers benefited most from increased demand for organic products in 2022, increasing their organic sales by 3.2 per cent to 10.2 billion euros.

Discounters in particular attracted customers to their shops with a wider range of products, even though they raised the prices of many organic products significantly. Supermarkets and full-range stores were able to keep their sales stable. Overall, two-thirds of organic sales came from traditional food retailers.

There are many supermarkets specialising in organic food.


Number of stores: 136

Alnatura is a German-based chain of organic food stores. It was founded in 1992 and offers a wide range of organic products, including fresh produce, dairy, and packaged goods.

denn's Biomarkt

Number of stores: 240

denn's Biomarkt is a German chain of organic supermarkets that provides customers with a wide selection of organic food, beverages, and personal care products.


Number of stores: 33

Basic is a German organic food retailer that provides customers with a wide range of organic products, including fresh produce, dairy, meat, and packaged goods.

Bio Company

Number of stores: 60

Bio Company is a German organic food retailer that offers customers a wide range of organic products, including fresh produce, dairy, meat, and packaged goods.

Reformhaus Bacher

Number of stores: more than 25

Reformhaus Bacher is a German chain of organic food stores that provides customers with a wide range of organic products, including supplements, personal care products, and fresh produce.


Number of stores: over 10

Veganz is a German chain of vegan supermarkets that provides customers with a wide range of vegan products, including fresh produce, dairy alternatives, meat alternatives, and packaged goods.


Metro AG:

Metro AG is one of the largest importers of food and drinks in Germany. It operates a wholesale business and is a major supplier to hotels, restaurants, and caterers.

Private label production

As in most European countries, the demand for private label products is increasing.

As the UK is one of the leading manufacturers in private label products, there is considerable potential in this sector.

Labelling and packaging

On 6 July 2011, the European Parliament adopted the compromise package on the Food Information Regulation (FID) negotiated with the Council and the Commission. The regulation ensures that manufacturers have uniform and clear requirements for labelling throughout Europe and that consumers are comprehensively informed when buying food.

German labelling requirements require this information in German:

  • sell by date
  • nutritional information
  • ingredients and allergens in BOLD PRINT

Details of the Food Business Operator (FBO) responsible for the product need to be on the product when it goes into retail

Nutrition labelling

Nutritional information is mandatory on a uniform basis throughout the European Union. The calorific value and six nutrients - the amounts of fat, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugar, protein and salt - must be indicated in all countries.

In addition to the mandatory information in the nutritional value table, information on guideline values for daily intake ("GDAs") can be used voluntarily. Germany is a pioneer in voluntary nutrition information. Already more than 80 percent of packaged foods bear nutritional information.

Allergen labelling

Allergenic ingredients must also be visually highlighted, for example by using a different font or a different background colour. Furthermore, there is an additional obligation to provide information on allergens even for unpackaged food.

Origin labelling

A new origin labelling has been introduced for fresh meat. In addition to the indication of the origin of beef, which was already in force, in future pork, lamb, poultry and goat will also be indicated as to where they come from.

Food imitations

For foods where an ingredient that is classically used is replaced by another ingredient, the labelling must make this clear. The substitute ingredient is indicated next to the product name. Meat or fish products that might appear to be a grown piece but are composed of smaller pieces shall bear the words "composed of pieces of meat" or "composed of pieces of fish".

Font sizes

The mandatory particulars specified shall be placed in a conspicuous position in a clear, legible manner with a minimum font size of 1.2 mm. If the largest surface area of the packaging is less than 80 square centimetres, the font size must be 0.9 mm.


Recycling – Green Dot (plus eight other organisations)


Most supermarkets stipulate IFS, BRC or at the very least SALSA and other relevant EU certifications (vegan, organic)

Guidance on labelling legislation in Europe.


The EU’s Packaging and packaging waste guidance provides extensive guidance.  You should ensure your packaging adheres to the German packaging laws.

More information is available at

What German buyers look for

  • A Euro price list
  • Have a good story to tell about your product (USP, background info etc.)
  • Have a customer base in the UK and ideally already exporting. Germans like to see a track record or evidence of business relationships
  • Be able to meet the demand of larger supermarket chains, should they be interested

Pfand (deposit) system

There are compulsory deposits on cans, PET and most glass bottles.

Either the UK company or their German distributor/importer/partner need to first register with DPG to obtain a unique GS1 barcode to display/print as a label

Once issued with the unique GS1 barcode the company can register the goods with the dgp pfandsystem and have the labels printed - which also involves a fee.

This is an example deposit label and a company that is certified to print DPG labels

How it works

A German consumer pays a deposit according to the type of bottle used.

When a bottle or can is returned the consumer receives the deposit paid back and the company that has registered the can/bottle is charged the relevant deposit fee.

Consumers can return the bottle to any retailers selling drinks. They do not have to return it to the shop where the drink was purchased

More information is available here -

Trade fairs

Germany is the world's No.1 trade fair venue for international trade fairs. Of the globally leading trade fairs in the individual sectors, almost two thirds take place in Germany. Every year around 150 international trade fairs and exhibitions take place, hosting 180,000 exhibitors and around 10 million visitors.

German is where the world comes to do business. At the trade fairs and exhibitions more than half of the exhibitors come from abroad, one third of them from countries outside Europe. Around a quarter of the visitors come from abroad.

Some relevant trade shows for the sector are:


Anuga is the world's largest trade fair for food and beverages and takes place every two years in Cologne, Germany. It showcases the latest food trends and innovations in the industry, attracting over 160,000 visitors and 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries.


Interpack is a leading trade fair for the packaging industry and takes place every three years in Düsseldorf, Germany. It covers the entire process chain in the packaging industry, from packaging materials and packaging machines to packaging design and packaging services.


DrinkTec is the world's leading trade fair for the beverage and liquid food industry and takes place every four years in Munich, Germany. It showcases the latest trends and innovations in the industry, attracting over 50,000 visitors and 1,500 exhibitors from over 100 countries.


BioFach is the world's leading trade fair for organic food and takes place every year in Nuremberg, Germany. It showcases the latest trends and innovations in the organic food industry, attracting over 50,000 visitors and 2,700 exhibitors from over 100 countries.


ProWein is the world's leading trade fair for wine and spirits and takes place every year in Düsseldorf, Germany. It showcases the latest trends and innovations in the wine and spirits industry, attracting over 60,000 visitors and 7,500 exhibitors from over 60 countries.

Fruit Logistica

Fruit Logistica is the world's leading trade fair for the fresh produce industry and takes place every year in Berlin, Germany. It showcases the latest trends and innovations in the fresh produce industry, attracting over 78,000 visitors and 2,900 exhibitors from over 130 countries.


The leading international trade fair for the sweets and snacks industry


For decades INTERNORGA has been regarded as the leading trade fair for the entire out-of-home market, as an innovator and source of trends, visionary concepts, new products, services and services.


VeggieWorld is Europe's largest trade fair series for the vegan lifestyle. Since 2011, VeggieWorld has been showing that a plant-based lifestyle is not only sustainable, conscious and animal-friendly, but also fun.


IFFA represents the entire market for the processing, packaging and sale of meat and alternative proteins. It thus offers the global food industry a platform for innovation and networking.

Fish International

The fish international is the only trade fair for fish and seafood in Germany - a platform for the trade and the gastronomy. In Bremen, the trade finds out about new products on the German market and gets an overview of innovations and developments.


As the leading world trade fair, iba has been the meeting place for experts from the baking, confectionery and snack industries since 1949. It is the platform for innovations from the entire industry and offers a complete overview of all innovations on the market.

You can search for more trade shows here.

Trade associations

Trade Associations play a very important role in Germany. They are useful contacts for UK companies looking to get in contact with partners in Germany as they can make introductions to their members.

These Trade Associations play an important role in the industry:

Bundesverband der Deutschen Süßwarenindustrie (BDSI)

(Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry)

The Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI) is the trade association for the confectionery industry in Germany. It represents the interests of over 140 member companies and provides information, support, and training to its members on topics such as market developments, technical issues, and regulations.

Bundesverband des Deutschen Getränkefachgroßhandels e.V.

(Federal Association of the German Wholesale Beverage Trade)

Association representing the interests of about 500 medium-sized companies that manage more than 70 percent of all beers, 40 percent of all mineral waters, 30 percent of all soft drinks and 20 percent of all fruit beverages. In 2021, about 45,000 employees in about 3,250 German companies will generate an annual turnover of about 21.5 billion euros. Our member companies have a share of about 70 per cent of this.

Bundesverband der Deutschen Spirituosen-Industrie und -Importeure e. V. (BSI)

(Federal Association of the German Spirits Industry and Importers)

As the umbrella organisation of German spirits producers and importers, the BSI represents around 90 per cent of the turnover in the spirits market with 53 companies that process and/or bottle, import or distribute spirits, as well as a large number of well-known supporting members and 4 regional state associations with a large number of associate members.

Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren (BNN)

Federal Association for Natural Food and Natural Products

The Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren e.V. (BNN), with its approximately 200 member companies, is a strong network of the organic industry in which both manufacturers and wholesalers as well as independent and chain retailers have a home together.

Zentralverband des Deutschen Bäckerhandwerks

Central Association of the German Baking Trade

The Zentralverband des Deutschen Bäckerhandwerks e. V. (Central Association of the German Baking Trade), founded in 1948, represents German craft bakers at local, regional and federal level as well as vis-à-vis European institutions. Together with the regional guild associations and bakers' guilds, it ensures that the interests of the member companies are efficiently and successfully enforced. The bakery trade benefits from this in political discussions as well as in the formation of public opinion.

Verband der Fleischwirtschaft e.V.

Association of the Meat Industry e.V.

As the umbrella organisation of the meat industry, the Meat Industry Association represents the interests of companies from almost all areas of the livestock and meat sector. The association represents the companies involved in livestock collection, slaughtering, meat cutting and processing through to meat packaging for the end consumer, the wholesale stage and the import and export with meat. Member companies account for more than 90 % of all slaughtering in Germany and almost the entire import and export of the sector is handled by member companies.

Bundesverband Deutscher Milchviehhalter e.V.

German Dairy Farmers' Association

The associations members are about one third of the active German milk producers, producing about 40 per cent of the milk produced in Germany.

Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Ernährungsindustrie e.V.
Federation of German Food and Drink Industries

The Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE) is the political top-level association of the German food and drink industry. Its membership comprises the branch associations and major companies. BVE's principal task is the representation of its members' common interests in the national and international context.

Deutscher Hotel- und Gaststättenverband (DEHOGA)

German Hotel and Restaurant Association

Description: The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) is the largest trade association for the hospitality industry in Germany. It represents the interests of over 57,000 member companies in the hotel, restaurant, and catering industries and provides information, support, and training to its members.

You can find details of more trade associations (in German) here.

Trade journals

Trade journals frequently contain data that can’t be found elsewhere. They generally contain articles discussing issues of importance for industry players and can be a key part of your research process.

Lebensmittel Zeitung

Lebensmittel Zeitung is the leading trade and business newspaper for the consumer goods industry in Germany.

You can use the below links (in German) to find trade journals in Germany:

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