After a market growth of well over 10 per cent in 2002 compared to the previous year, soya-based drinks and desserts and meat-free and tofu products again showed double figure growth in 2003, reaching a value of €1.5 billion, according to new data from Prosoy.
Prosoy expects the market to continue growing like this between 2004 and 2006.
Soya-based dairy alternatives remains the most dynamic category, recording a growth close to 20 per cent in 2003.
"The demand for soya-based milks, yoghurts and desserts is growingas a result of changes in lifestyle, growing food intolerance andallergies, as well as the positive health image of soya," said Gerard Klein Essink, senior researcher at Prosoy Research & Strategy.
Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD) indicates well over130 new soya-based drinks, desserts and meatfree products launched during 2003 in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
But there are also new categories emerging, with more soy-based breads and biscuits arriving on retail shelves.
"Last year there were only one or two soy breads available but there are a number of new companies, such as Abacor in Norway, that have launched similar products in recent months," Essink told NutraIngredients.com.
Soy ingredients are no longer the domain of specialist soyfood companies but are increasingly being taken up by firms looking to diversify a product range or add a health element. In Germany, fruit juice makers like Wild have added soy to new lines.
This innovation is likely to be sustained by widely expected health claims under new European regulations. National authorities in certain European countries could also approve new health claims for soya this year.
The benefits of a claim have already been felt by companies in the UK market, where a 'voluntary' health claims code, the JHCI, passed a soy heart health claim in 2002.
"Companies have changed their packaging to feature this logo on their products. Alpro used the momentum to launch a major mass marketing campaign to 2 million consumers and has definitely benefited from the claim," said Essink.
The eight-country report, 'Soyfoods: The European market 2003' contains a leadingmacro section on the overall position and acceptance of soyfoodsand two special market category report sections on soya-based drinks and desserts and Europe's meat-free category in 2004.