Unilever has set a global sales target to net US$1.2 billion from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives within the next five to seven years. The aim is to roll out The Vegetarian Butcher brand and ramp up vegan alternatives from brands including Hellmann’s, Magnum and Wall’s.
Unilever will also strengthen its portfolio of nutritional products containing ingredients like vegetables, fruits, proteins, or micronutrients such as vitamins, zinc, iron and iodine, and continue lowering calorie, salt and sugar levels across products.
Another commitment is 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.
The targets are part of Unilever’s recently unveiled Future Foods ambition, which has two key objectives: to help people transition toward healthier diets and help reduce the global food chain’s environmental impact.
“We have a critical role to play in helping to transform the global food system. 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,” explains s Hanneke Faber, president of Unilever’s Foods & Refreshment Division.
“It’s widely recognized that the current global food system is inequitable and inefficient. One billion people around the world are hungry, while two billion are obese or overweight,” he continues.
“One-third of all food produced is thrown away. And animal agriculture is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels and a leading cause of deforestation, water and air pollution and biodiversity loss,” adds Faber.
Estimated five-fold sales growth driven by meat and dairy alternatives
The maker of Lipton, Ben & Jerry’s and Knorr has been investing in the plant-based space for many years.
After acquiring The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018, Unilever expanded the plant-based meat brand into more than 30 countries and was last year chosen as the supplier of Burger King’s Plant-Based Whopper and Plant-Based Nuggets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
In November 2019, Burger King strengthened its foothold in the booming market for plant-based foods served in restaurant chains by partnering with The Vegetarian Butcher on its Rebel Whopper launch.