Unilever sets sales target of €1 billion for plant-based foods by 2027

Unilever sets sales target of €1 billion for plant-based foods by 2027

Read Time:   |  19th November 2020

Unilever has announced an ambitious €1 billion annual sales target from plant-based protein by 2027.

Unilever has set a bold new target for the sale of vegan food products, aiming for annual sales of €1 billion by 2027. They envision this growth to be driven by plant-based proteins from The Vegetarian Butcher, and dairy alternatives from Magnum, Wall’s and Hellmann’s.

This new global target is part of Unilever’s ‘Future Foods’ endeavour with two objectives:

  1. To help people transition towards healthier diets.
  2. To reduce the environmental impact of the food chain on the planet.

As one of the world’s leading suppliers of food, the ambitions set out by Unilever could make a huge impact.

Food waste

A huge problem facing the world in our attempt to combat climate change is food waste. Producing food on a global scale takes a huge amount of resources, energy and time. When this food is wasted, it means the world’s precious reserves have been used for no reason. Moreover, if food waste is not properly disposed of (i.e. in compost heaps) it releases methane into the atmosphere, which is over 20x more damaging than CO2.

Therefore, Unilever is aiming to halve food waste in its direct global operations from factory to shelf by 2025 – five years earlier than previously committed. 

A healthy diet

The food giant is also working on doubling the number of products delivering positive nutrition by 2025 on a global scale. These foods are defined as products containing significant amounts of fruit, vegetable, protein or micronutrients.

Furthermore, Unilever will help consumers reduce their salt intake to no more than 5g a day by 2022. Similarly, they will update their packaged ice cream to contain no more than 22g of total sugar per serving.

‘The current food system is inequitable’

Hanneke Faber, President of Unilever’s Foods & Refreshment Division acknowledged the problems in the current food system.

“It is widely recognised 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. 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.” 

Plant-based giant?

Unilever has been expanding its plant-based meat and dairy alternatives business for several years now. After acquiring The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018, Unilever has expanded the plant-based meat brand into more than 30 countries. Also, its first vegan Magnum was awarded Best Vegan Ice Cream in the UK by PETA in 2019.

In 2019, Unilever made an €85million investment in ‘The Hive’, a foods innovation centre at Wageningen University in the Netherlands to support research into plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives, efficient crops, sustainable food packaging and nutritious food.   

Unilever is obviously taking huge steps towards a plant-based global food system, and it can only be applauded. The inequity in our current system needs revolutionising, and it can only be achieved if there is an effort made by the top players in the game. 

Similarly, the UK retail sector has pledged net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
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