That Breyers ice cream you love so much and the Oscar Myers hot dog you ate for lunch have a similarity. No they are not made by the same animal, but they are manufactured and sold by the same company. Nestle! The planet's largest food producer and maker of everything from Maxwell House to Stouffers (and a lot in between). Now, the CEO of this behemoth, Mark Schneider has spoken about the emerging plant based foods market. “We think less meat and dairy is good for the planet, but it’s also good for diet and health, and it is also a big commercial opportunity,” Schneider told the BBC.
While Schneider’s comments acknowledge the climate benefits of a plant based diet, he also notes the sales opportunity inherent in the category. A report from earlier this year found that in 2020, the vegan food market in the US grew nearly twice as fast as the nation’s total retail food market – boosting 27 percent vs 15 percent respectively. Additionally the vegan food market grew twice as fast as conventional meat. Bloomberg estimated that the vegan food market will top $162 billion dollars within a decade.
So it's not just the environment or being a good citizen driving the Nestle decision. There are hard cold numbers backing Schneider’s announcement. Just look at a brand such as Oatly. In a period less than five years they have increased sales umpteen percent.
Schneider went further revealing that Nestlé plans to launch a plant-based protein to 'replace every animal protein out there'. Now this one is of particular interest, if anyone can perform magic of this sort, Nestle can. They also recently introduced a vegan version of their immensely popular KitKat chocolate wafer bar.
Why plant based now for Nestle
The shift towards animal-free food has been driven, in part, by Nestlé's aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. Meat and animal products are some of the largest contributors to global warming, with methane (which comes as a byproduct of animal farming) pumping in almost 20% of all gases. Animal farming is also to blame for significant deforestation, air and water pollution, and biodiversity loss.
Nestle is the crème de la crème in the food business. The leadership displayed by Nestle will be noticed and mimicked by other global giants such as the UKs Unilever and the US's Kraft Foods. We can only hope the incompetence of our political leadership in tackling climate change can be at least partially offset by the good governance of multinationals. Sounds insane, but when desperate...