Unilever sets bold new “future foods” ambition

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Hanneke Faber, President of Unilever’s Foods & Refreshments Division

Unilever has announced a new annual global sales target of €1 billion from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives within the next five to seven years. The growth will be driven by the roll-out of The Vegetarian Butcher as well as increasing vegan alternatives from brands including Hellmann’s, Magnum and Wall’s. 

The target is part of Unilever’s “Future Foods” ambition, launched globally today with two key objectives: to help people transition towards healthier diets and to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain.   

“As one of the world’s largest food companies, we have a critical role to play in helping to transform the global food system,” said Hanneke Faber, President of Unilever’s Foods & Refreshment Division. “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. These are bold, stretching targets which demonstrate our commitment to being a force for good. 

“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.” 

Unilever has been expanding its plant-based meat and dairy alternatives business for several years. After acquiring The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018, it expanded the plant-based meat brand into more than 30 countries and was last year chosen as the supplier of Burger King’s Plant-Based Whopper and Plant-Based Nuggets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  

In Ice Cream, its first vegan Magnum was awarded Best Vegan Ice Cream in the UK by PETA in 2019. Both Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo and Ben & Jerry’s Coconutterly Caramel’d Dairy-free were named as one of Nielsen’s top 25 Breakthrough Innovations in Europe for 2020.