Unilever sets €1 billion goal to make plant-based the new normal

Unilever has launched its Future Foods initiative to address food waste, promote healthy eating and increase plant-based food sales to €1 billion.

Unilever has unveiled its plan to “make plant-based foods the new normal” with a sales goal of €1 billion (around five times its current plant-based sales).

Launching its Future Foods initiative, the FMCG giant wants to reach the billion-euro sales target in the next five to seven years, halve its food waste from factory to shelf by 2025, double the number of positive nutrition products by 2025, and continue to lower calories, salt and sugar across all its products.

These new targets go hand-in-hand with its global commitments to have a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023, halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025, and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2039.

Unilever said the global food system isn’t working, with two billion people overweight and one billion hungry, and 20% of the world’s greenhouse gases are produced by the food industry. And therefore, plant-based eating is its priority.

It added that reducing meat consumption is essential, quoting research that shows switching to plant-based diets would reduce individual carbon footprints by up to 35%. Unilever stresses that plant-based diets are better for the health of people and the planet. But for people to make the switch, it said those foods need to be the easy, obvious choice. “We need plant-based options to be more accessible, affordable and appetising.”

Unilever said: “With a new sales target of €1 billion for plant-based alternatives, our customers will see a wider range of vegan and vegetarian options from our brands.”

Hanneke Faber, director of Unilever’s food and 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.”

Expanding on its goals to halve the food waste in its operations, the company explains that it had already committed to doing that by 2030 as a signatory of the Champions 12.3 10x20x30 initiative. It’s now bringing the deadline forward to 2025.

“Food loss and waste has massive impacts in terms of cost to the global economy, the environment and society,” said Liz Goodwin from the World Resources Institute. “We know that food loss and waste contributes about 8% of global greenhouse emissions as well as wasting the land and water used in production of food.”

Read our story on whether Unilever’s newfound leverage in the vegan industry truly aligns with its lifestyle.

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