Germany produced less meat last year, while demand for vegan products soared. But schnitzels and sausages still outnumber plant-based alternatives on store shelves by a wide margin.
The total value of meat produced in Germany fell in 2020, the country's Federal Statistics Office (Desatis) said on Friday.
Meanwhile, the production of vegetarian and vegan substitute products in the country surged.
The total value of meat products in Germany came to €38.6 billion ($46.8 billion) last year. This is down 4% from the 10-year high in 2019 when Germany's meat products had a total value of €40.1 billion, Destatis reported.
Conversely, Germany's meat substitute industry saw a boom.
Companies produced almost 39% more meat substitutes in 2020 than in the previous year.
Production rose from just under 60,400 tons to 83,700 tons — the equivalent of nearly 12,000 fully grown African elephants.
The value of meat substitute products increased from €272.8 million to €374.9 million, or a 37% increase, in the same period.
Destatis only began collecting data on the meat substitute industry in 2019, making this the first time that a comparison between two years was possible.
The statisticians think the 2020 decline in meat production could be related to the coronavirus pandemic. Some production plants were forced to temporarily close due to breaking hygiene rules and COVID-19 outbreaks among employees — most notably at the Tönnies meat-processing plant in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
But there is also a long-term trend of falling meat consumption in the country.
In 1987, a household would consume on average 6.7 kilograms of meat in a month, not including sausages, cured and processed meats. By 2020, this had reduced to around a third, to 2.3 kilograms.