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French multinational food giant Danone is planning to dramatically increase its plant-based sales worldwide to capitalise on the fast-growing market. In a new statement, the company announced that it is creating a dedicated Plant-Based Acceleration Unit to help it expand into a number of vegan categories and pivot its existing brands into the sector.
Danone has just announced the creation of a new Plant-Based Acceleration Unit to meet its ambitions to increase plant-based sales globally from just over US$2.1 billion in 2019 to US$5.4 billion by 2025. The new unit will be run under Danone’s Essential Dairy and Plant-Based (EDP) business, and aims to further expand into new plant-based categories such as coffee, baby food, aging food solutions as well as diverting existing brands under its portfolio into the plant-based market.
The move comes 3 years after EDP, Danone’s largest business and the biggest certified B Corporation in the world, acquired plant-based food and beverage company WhiteWave Foods to “meet the rising demand from consumers adopting flexitarian diets.” WhiteWave is the parent company of a number of vegan dairy alternative brands, including Silk, So Delicious, Vega and Alpro, which Danone credited for propping up a 4.6% increase in net sales in the first-quarter of 2020.
In April, Danone invested US$10 million into vegan creamber brand Laird Superfoods via its investment branch Danone Manifesto Ventures. The recently announced plans to accelerate plant-based sales will run as a part of Danone’s sustainable value creation agenda and “One Planet, One Health” framework, said the company.
EDP also announced the launch of a separate EDP North America entity, so as to lead the regional focus of the organisation and its expansion into the plant-based sector in that market. Shane Grant, who previously held leadership positions in The Coca-Cola Company, will be joining Danone to lead the EDP business in North America. The rest of the EDP International business will focus on geographical regions outside of North America, and headed by Francisco Camacho.
Other FMCG conglomerates have made similar pivots towards plant-based as vegan and vegetarian foods continue to explode in popularity. Earlier this year, Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company, announced that it has plans to aggressively ramp up plant-based innovation across every product category under its brand portfolio. Meanwhile, PepsiCo recently acquired Chinese meat-free snack company Bao Cao Flavour for US$705 million to establish its share of the plant-based sector in Asia’s biggest consumer market.
Covid-19 is likely to further accelerate the push for plant-based, though prior to the pandemic, plant-based foods have already been thrust into the mainstream market as consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of animal products. With heightened concerns about health, food safety and sustainability, on top of the vulnerability of the meat supply chain xposed by the coronavirus, plant-based is poised to draw in more investment and consumer interest than ever before.
Lead image courtesy of Danone.