Danone Acquires Follow Your Heart As Big Food Bets On Plant-Based

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Multinational food giant Danone has announced an agreement to purchase Earth Island, the maker of legacy plant-based brand Follow Your Heart. The acquisition of the firm marks yet another expansion in Danone’s meat and dairy-free offerings, as it pushes on with its ambitious goal to ramp up its plant-based sales to US$5.4 billion by 2025

Danone has entered into an agreement to acquire Earth Island, a move designed to strengthen its plant-based presence on the market, the corporation revealed on Thursday (February 18). Earth Island, the company behind the iconic Follow Your Heart line of vegan-friendly vegenaise, cheese, dips, salad dressings, yoghurt and eggs, will now join Danone’s growing portfolio of plant-based brands, including Alpro, Silk, So Delicious, and Vega, which came under its ownership after it purchased the WhiteWave Foods group in 2017. 

The partnership, says the firm, contributes to its goal to increase its global plant-based sales to US$5.4 billion by 2025 in response to the growing mass demand for healthier and sustainable foods, a target that was first announced in May 2020. 

“We are delighted to welcome Follow Your Heart’s team to our amazing team at Danone,” commented Shane Grant, EVP and CEO at Danone North America. 

Follow Your Heart Vegenaise (Source: Follow Your Heart)

This partnership will build on our success in plant-based beverages, yogurt alternatives and creamers, further accelerating the growth of our North American plant-based business.

Shane Grant, EVP & CEO, Danone North America

“Consumers are increasingly eating flexitarian diets, and we look forward to working with the Follow Your Heart team to offer our consumers even more choices. This partnership will build on our success in plant-based beverages, yogurt alternatives and creamers, further accelerating the growth of our North American plant-based business,” Grant continued. 

It’s also a move tailored to target the fast-growing category of vegan cheese and dairy alternatives, a sector that remains a huge business opportunity as plant-based meat products have traditionally been at the centre of the limelight. 

Just last month, Danone subsidiary So Delicious expanded its plant-based cheese range to tap the trend, revamping its existing vegan cheese “shreds” product and adding cream cheese spreads and sliced cheeses to the line-up. 

“In the U.S., plant-based food and beverages are a US$5 billion category, and plant-based cheese is one of the fastest growing segments within it,” stated Danone in a press release. Recent statistics have put the current global vegan cheese market at US$2.7 billion, but projections say that it’ll double to more than US$4.5 billion by as soon as 2025

Danone’s existing line of plant-based brands (Source: Danone)

In the U.S., plant-based food and beverages are a US$5 billion category, and plant-based cheese is one of the fastest growing segments within it.

Danone

Speaking about its entry into Danone’s portfolio, Bob Goldberg, co-founder and CEO of Earth Island, said: “We’re very pleased to be joining the Danone family of plant-based companies in a collective effort to bring positive change in the world through the creation of sustainably and responsibly-made foods.” 

“Our mission has always been to produce the best plant-based food products and to make them available to as many people as possible,” added Goldberg. 

As the coronavirus continues to accelerate the plant-based trend globally, almost all food majors are now keen to double down on the industry, with the likes of Nestlé and Unilever also having set out dedicated plant-based targets in recent months and have made clear their running in the competition. 

In a recent interview, Unilever CEO Alan Jope described the trend as “inexorable” in “every single country”, reiterating the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate’s plant-focused strategy in the coming months to launch a vegan version of all its classic products, from Magnum to Hellmann’s.  


Lead image courtesy of Follow Your Heart.


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