Unilever has announced a new annual global sales target of €1 billion ($1.62 billion) from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, within the next five to seven years.
In a press statement, the company said growth will be driven by the roll-out of The Vegetarian Butcher, as well as increasing vegan alternatives from brands like Hellmann’s, Magnum, and Wall’s.
The target is part of Unilever’s ‘Future Foods’ ambition, launched globally on Wednesday, with two key objectives: to help people transition towards healthier diets and to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain.
Unilever, which also makes Lipton, Ben & Jerry’s and Knorr, has also committed to:
- Halve food waste in its direct global operations from factory to shelf by 2025—five years earlier than previously committed, as part of the Champions 12.3 coalition target
- Double the number of products delivering positive nutrition globally by 2025—defined as products containing impactful amounts of vegetables, fruits, proteins, or micronutrients like vitamins, zinc, iron and iodine
- Continue lowering calorie, salt and sugar levels across products.
- 85 per cent of Unilever’s global Foods portfolio will help consumers reduce their salt intake to no more than 5g per day, by 20221.
- 95 per cent of Unilever’s packaged ice cream will not contain more than 22g of total sugar, and 250 Kcal per serving, by 2025. This is in addition to the company’s children’s ice creams, which have been capped at 110 kcal since 2014.
It comes as the latest commitment by Unilever to expand its plant-based meat and dairy business, a process which has been ongoing for the past several years, alongside other planet-friendly initiatives by the company.
“As one of the world’s largest food companies, we have a critical role to play in helping to transform the global food system,” Hanneke Faber, president of Unilever’s foods & refreshment division, said.
“It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all.
“These are bold, stretching targets which demonstrate our commitment to being a force for good.”
The global plant-based meat market is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.8 per cent, and is set to reach US$35.4 billion ($48.45 billion) by 2027.
Barclays estimated in 2019 that the wider plant-based market could grow by over 1,000 per cent over the next ten years, reaching US$140 billion ($191.6 billion) by 2029. The research also found that 92 per cent of plant-based meals in the UK are consumed by the 22 million non-vegan “flexitarians” in the market.
While 2020 research by ethical investor network FAIRR highlighted that two in five global food giants now have dedicated teams to develop and sell plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy.
Unilever is one of only two companies to be cited as a ‘pioneer’ in this year’s FAIRR ranking of the world’s top 25 food retailer and manufacturers that are shifting to more sustainable protein sources.
Featured image source: iStock/EasyBuy4u
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