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Swiss food giant Nestlé has revealed that its plant-based sales have grown 40% in the past half-year amid the coronavirus crisis, which has sent consumers opting for meatless groceries more than ever before. Earlier this year, the conglomerate ramped up its plant-based innovation in response to rising consumer demand.
In its half-year report, Nestlé says that sales of its vegan and vegetarian food products grew by 40%, supported by the firm’s expansion of its plant-based brands Sweet Earth in the U.S. and Garden Gourmet in Europe.
This is in stark contrast to its other product categories, such as confectionery, which saw slightly negative growth. Other on-the-go products also saw declines, reflecting the reduced impulse and convenience purchases as consumers continue to spend prolonged periods indoors.
Looking ahead to the next half-year, the multinational food giant believes that organic sales will be a key source of steady growth.
“We expect full-year organic sales growth between 2% and 3%,” said the report. “This guidance is based on our current knowledge of Covid-19 developments.”
Nestlé’s bet on organic products is in line with other market analysts. According to recent statistics from the Organic Trade Association (OTA), organic produce sales soared by 50% within the first quarter of this year, while other organic food categories such as organic packaged and frozen foods reported double-digit growth. The trend is expected to last as the pandemic shifts consumer attention towards food safety and health.
Earlier this year, Nestlé made the decision to aggressively pursue plant-based innovation across all its existing product categories and brands in a bid to keep up with consumer demand. This demand has been accelerated by the pandemic, which has exposed the vulnerabilities of the meat supply chain.
Across the world, consumer surveys have indicated strong consumer sentiment in favour of plant-based products and a growing willingness to reduce meat consumption as a direct result of the pandemic.
The most recent plant-based move by Nestlé has been the decision to roll out a vegan version of its famous Carnation condensed milk.
Other FMCG giants have taken the leap in ramping up plant-based development as the trend moves into the mainstream. In a recent report published by FAIRR, nearly half of the world’s biggest food retailers and manufacturers now have dedicated plant-based teams focused on creating new vegan-friendly products. Tesco and Unilever ranked the highest in terms of its commitment to shifting its portfolio towards plant-based, according to the analysis.
Lead image courtesy of Nestlé.