Soy milks, yoghurts and desserts grew by 22 per cent in 2004, shows the research by Prosoy , as Europeans became even more health-conscious and more aware of food intolerance and allergies.
The overall market for soya-based dairy and meat alternatives reached a value of €1.6 billion, up a further 10 per cent on 2003.
It is expected to continue growing like this in the next three years.
"We have tracked well over 130 new products introductions of soya-based drinks & desserts, meat-free including tofu product launches in 2004 in 8 European countries," said Gerard Klein Essink, senior researcher at Prosoy Research & Strategy.
Innovation has played an important role in the market growth, shows the report. The availability of new soya-based milk products and meat-free concepts in the chilled sections of supermarkets have had a very positive effect on the consumer demand.
More than 100 new products were launched in Europe last year, an increase of 54 per cent when compared to 2003.
Many new companies have also entered the marketplace. Fruit and beverage manufacturers are discovering soya's potential for offering health benefits, which broadens their range of wellness drinks.
Meanwhile dairy companies have started to add soya to their dairy drinks and desserts. Both Danone and General Mills' Yoplait brand now offer yoghurts with added soya.
The European market for meat-free products grew by 6 per cent in 2004, in line with the growth in 2002 and 2003.
"This development shows that not only existing consumers, but also new consumers are attracted by this healthy food. The market entry of international manufacturers such as the Nordic GoGreen group, the dairy company Campina and the large fresh meat company VION will further contribute to future market growth," added Klein Essink.
The report covers Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.