November 18, 2020


Unilever expects its plant-based meat and dairy products to reach EUR 1 billion


Unilever aims a EUR 1 billion (~US$1.18 billion; EUR 1 = US$1.19) sales target for its plant-based meat and dairy products, thanks to the growth of its Vegetarian Butcher brand, as well as its vegan Hellmann's mayonnaise varieties and Magnum and Wall's ice cream, Reuters reported.


Hanneke Faber, president of Unilever's foods and refreshment business, said the sales targets reflects a four times growth.


Plant-based meat and dairy products have become one of the top growing packaged food markets. However, Beyond Meat reported to investors earlier in November a quarterly loss and lower than projected sales.


A selection of Unilever's vegan products are more expensive than the actual thing, similar to its competitors. This could turn away consumers shopping in a recession.


For example, UK's Tesco sells Vegetarian Butcher mince costs GBP 2.75 online (~US$3.65; GBP 1 = US$1.33) or GBP 13.75 (~US$18.25) per kg. Its online beef steak mince is GBP 4.65 (~US$6.17) for 500 grams, or GBP 9.30 (~US$12.35) per kg.


Faber said prices will go down as production increases but it will be years before vegan product prices will be comparable to the real thing.


Unilever acquired Vegetarian Butcher last year and expanded it to 30 countries. Vegetarian Butcher is the regional supplier for Burger King's plant-based Whopper and nuggets. 


In July, Polaris Market Research projected the world's plant-based meat market to rise 15.8% annually over the next seven years from US$11 billion in 2019. This is thanks to veganism's growing popularity among consumers, higher awareness for nutrition and increased high concerns due to the pandemic.


Faber said they will prioritise organic growth for their plant-based food sector growth, but did not rule out future acquisitions.


-      Reuters