The Food & Beverage Industry in Germany

Germany’s food industry is not only driven by the commitment to deliver the very best, but also by a desire to actively respond to changing consumer wants and needs. Increasing health awareness, an aging population, and the resulting demand for health and wellness products have helped a number of previously niche market actors to become significant industry players.


The demand for functional foods has established Germany as a European leader in the business. Within the past decade alone, the organic food segment experienced a threefold increase in sales. Germany stands at the forefront of food and beverage market development as it rises to meet the international challenge of increased demand for safe and healthy food.

Major Industry Sectors

Germany’s food and beverage industry is the fourth largest industry sector in Germany – generating production value of EUR 150 billion each year. The industry is characterised by its small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector of about 6000 companies employing 550,000 people. The largest industry segments by production value are meat and sausage products (23%), dairy products (15%), confectionery (10%), and alcoholic beverages (9%).

International Trade

Exports of processed foods and agricultural commodities generate an approximate EUR 50 billion in sales each year. More than a quarter of all processed foods made in Germany are exported, with about 80% of all exports going to other EU member states. Although exports of Germany’s food industry reached an all-time high, the country is a net importer of food and beverage products and thereby the most important European market for foreign producers. Processed foods and agricultural commodities to the value of round about EUR 60 billion are imported each year.

Innovative Excellence

The German food industry, as well as public and private institutes continuously conduct R&D activities to develop new products, enhance nutrition, and improve general food safety. The total annual expenditure for R&D in the German food and beverage industry reaches approximately EUR 350 million. The private sector accounts for the majority of the total R&D spending and more than 90% of all R&D is conducted within the branch. More than 2,400 people work in food and beverage R&D. Almost half of all private R&D spending in the German food and beverage industry is foreign company derived – underpinning the importance of local R&D to adapt products to the local market. Local research teams are able to research and develop new products according to culinary customs, tastes, and preferences.


The innovative excellence and market development in the German food and beverage industry are strongly supported by professional clusters. The German food clusters are a good entry point for your access to knowledge, markets and partners in Germany.