Big Food x Plant Based 🌱 Exploring the industry's new love affair with plant-based

Big Food x Plant Based 🌱 Exploring the industry's new love affair with plant-based

By
Nicola Spalding
May 10, 2021

Big Food is going all-in on the plant-based category, including many of the world’s biggest meat producers. Some are buying up or investing in startups or established plant-based brands, while others are trying to make it on their own with CPG ranges developed in-house.


From Tyson’s tumultuous experience with its Raised & Rooted range to JBS’s €341M Vivera acquisition, we’re taking a look at Big Food's newly found love affair with plants.

🌱 What:

‍Plant-based food is firmly in the mainstream, but industry pioneers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods face fierce competition. Not just from hungry startups, but from the big players too.

📈 Figures:

  • 6 out of 10 of the largest US meat producers have plant-based CPGs
  • 5 out of 10 of the largest European meat producers have plant-based CPGs
  • 2020 saw $3.1B investment into alternative proteins. Three times more than in 2019.
  • And plenty of the rounds were led by Big Food players: Tyson, Cargill, Nestlé, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Louis Dreyfus Company and more.

🤷‍♂️ Why:

Plant-based was growing in popularity pre-pandemic, but has undergone a seismic shift in the past year:

  • Some big producers saw meat plant closures linked to coronavirus outbreaks. As well as scandals around working conditions, these caused shortages, encouraging some consumers to try new things. 
  • Consumers generally became more aware of their health and the fragile nature of our global food supply system, so switched to plant-based alternatives...and stuck with them.
  • Protein technology has accelerated at warp speed through the past 18 months. Where some vegan alternatives may have been questionable in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional content, now most are delicious and, generally, clean-labelled.
We've gathered 20+ Big Food x Plant Based brands you should know about.

👀 Who: 

🥩 Big Meat x Plant Based

Plant-based products from Garden Gourmet (Nestle), Gro (Co-op), Raised & Rooted (Tyson)

🥫 Big Food x Plant-Based

  • Nestle invested heavily in plant-based in 2017 with the acquisition of Sweet Earth in the US, now running the Garden Gourmet brand in Europe and Harvest Gourmet in Asia. With a localized offering and marketing (kung pao chicken and pork belly in China, burger patties in the West), Nestle is quietly the most global plant-based player.
  • Unilever has pledged to build a $1B plant-based meat and dairy business within the next 5-7 years, launching a number of plant-based product including the vegan Magnum, Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo and Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free ice cream. They also acquired Netherlands-based The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018 which just scored a major deal with Burger King U.K. for their Vegan Royale and Plant-Based Whopper, and a China rollout with six Chinese-cuisine-friendly products for food service.
  • Danone acquired plant-based pioneer Follow Your Heart, earlier this year - the makers of Vegenaise spread, dairy-free cheeses, plant-based dressings and VeganEgg. The multinational also purchased WhiteWave Foods back in 2017 adding Alpro, (dairy alternatives), Silk (also dairy alternatives) and So Delicious (dairy and dessert alternatives) into its plant-based portfolio.
  • Cargill just partnered with Dutch startup Bflike in a 50-50 joint venture to bring ‘next generation’ plant-based meat and fish alternatives to market, and it has a plant protein product line for industry.
  • PepsiCo and Beyond Meat got together earlier this year to work on plant-based snack products.
  • The world’s largest fish producer, Vinh Hoan Corporation, partnered with cell-based seafood tech Avant Meats in January.
  • Conagra Brands, Inc.’s brand, Gardein, is the second-largest in the meat alternatives market.
  • Louis Dreyfus Company was one of the big names on Good Catch seafood owner Gathered Foods’ latest funding round, which closed at €26.35M.
  • Kellogg’s Q1 earnings call boasted growth of their Morningstar Farms brand and subsidiary Incogmeato, widely-available product range including Bratwurst, plant-based mince, and Mickey Mouse-shaped Chik’n nuggets for the kids. On the call, Kellogg’s flexed that Morningstar’s penetration is “well above any of our competitors.”

Sponsored by Big Idea Ventures

Apply Now: Join the leading alt-protein accelerator 🌱🧫

Apply today if you’re an early-stage startup working on plant-based food or ingredients, food technology, and cellular agriculture technology.

Apply Here to fast-track your growth.
Deadline: 16th May (for early offers)


🛒 Retailers x Plant-Based

  • Tesco is charting their own course with a whopping 76 own-brand vegan products, earning them the recognition as the UK’s “Number One Plant-Based Supermarket.” The crown jewel in Tesco’s plant-based portfolio is their successful Wicked Kitchen line of “vegan food for meat eaters,” with 10M units sold in under 2 years of business.
  • Kroger’s popular Simple Truth line launched 53 items in 2020, with 18% growth in Q4, exceeding $1 billion in annual sales in 2020.
  • Co-op launched Gro, it's line of 35 meat-free products to meet the growing demand of vegetarian and plant-based consumers across their stores. Focussing first on UK favorites like the classic chili con carne to sticky toffee pudding.

🔎 Discover 20+ Plant based brands from Big Foods Companies here

A battle of Big Food vs Startups

❌ Challenges:

  • Big Food brands are competing with pioneers. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat got there first and are doing it really well.
  • Plus, a lot of the startups have crafted stories around their purpose and products, which engage consumers. In contrast, big food companies’ plant-based brands could appear faceless, or a ‘tick box’ exercise.
  • Consumer perception: do consumers really want to eat plant-based products from companies traditionally know for meat processing?

🔮 Our predictions:

  • Meat consumption has taken a hit this past year but is still, globally on an upwards trend. Meat demand will continue to increase, but in different regions. China consumes 28% of the world’s meat, including half of all pork, and India’s total meat consumption and livestock counts are some of the highest globally, and these numbers are only set to grow as the middle class expands and income increases. The only way meat companies will grow is through diversifying into a plant-based portfolio in developed countries, or selling meat into new markets.
  • 50:50 meat:plant is a tricky business. Nobody has (yet) figured out the right consumer messaging, and selling consumers a ‘compromise’ is hard. A potential win for products like Perdue’s Chicken Plus is industrial buyers focused on cost and nutrition (think hospitals and school cafeterias), or targeting exhausted parents trying to smuggle veg into their kids.
  • Fat and protein tech will continue to snowball. Producers will be able to make better products, faster, and at a more compelling price point, so will switch even more consumers.
  • Big Food, including the world’s largest meat producers, are going all-in on plant-based. Whether it’s grocery empires like Tesco and Kroger earning billions on their house brands, or global leaders like Nestle and Unilever with global rollouts, plant-based startups have cause for concern. These brands have deep experience and deep wallets, and are likely to muscle market share from the leading startups.
  • BUT, early innovators like Impossible Foods, with its proprietary ‘heme,’ have built a lot of loyalty and should remain a steadfast favourite because they’ve already won on message.

💡TLDR:

Big Food taking on plant-based is inevitable, but some will be more successful than others, and some might flop completely. Big firms have big money, meaning they can move fast, or acquire their way into this space. We foresee bullish investment and plenty of new product development in this space. 

Agree with our predictions or think we're way off? Hit reply and let us know - our writers love a good debate.

🔎 More: Discover 20+ Plant based brands from Big Foods Companies here (FREE)

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Big Food is going all-in on the plant-based category, including many of the world’s biggest meat producers. Some are buying up or investing in startups or established plant-based brands, while others are trying to make it on their own with CPG ranges developed in-house.


From Tyson’s tumultuous experience with its Raised & Rooted range to JBS’s €341M Vivera acquisition, we’re taking a look at Big Food's newly found love affair with plants.

🌱 What:

‍Plant-based food is firmly in the mainstream, but industry pioneers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods face fierce competition. Not just from hungry startups, but from the big players too.

📈 Figures:

  • 6 out of 10 of the largest US meat producers have plant-based CPGs
  • 5 out of 10 of the largest European meat producers have plant-based CPGs
  • 2020 saw $3.1B investment into alternative proteins. Three times more than in 2019.
  • And plenty of the rounds were led by Big Food players: Tyson, Cargill, Nestlé, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Louis Dreyfus Company and more.

🤷‍♂️ Why:

Plant-based was growing in popularity pre-pandemic, but has undergone a seismic shift in the past year:

  • Some big producers saw meat plant closures linked to coronavirus outbreaks. As well as scandals around working conditions, these caused shortages, encouraging some consumers to try new things. 
  • Consumers generally became more aware of their health and the fragile nature of our global food supply system, so switched to plant-based alternatives...and stuck with them.
  • Protein technology has accelerated at warp speed through the past 18 months. Where some vegan alternatives may have been questionable in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional content, now most are delicious and, generally, clean-labelled.
We've gathered 20+ Big Food x Plant Based brands you should know about.

👀 Who: 

🥩 Big Meat x Plant Based

Plant-based products from Garden Gourmet (Nestle), Gro (Co-op), Raised & Rooted (Tyson)

🥫 Big Food x Plant-Based

  • Nestle invested heavily in plant-based in 2017 with the acquisition of Sweet Earth in the US, now running the Garden Gourmet brand in Europe and Harvest Gourmet in Asia. With a localized offering and marketing (kung pao chicken and pork belly in China, burger patties in the West), Nestle is quietly the most global plant-based player.
  • Unilever has pledged to build a $1B plant-based meat and dairy business within the next 5-7 years, launching a number of plant-based product including the vegan Magnum, Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo and Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free ice cream. They also acquired Netherlands-based The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018 which just scored a major deal with Burger King U.K. for their Vegan Royale and Plant-Based Whopper, and a China rollout with six Chinese-cuisine-friendly products for food service.
  • Danone acquired plant-based pioneer Follow Your Heart, earlier this year - the makers of Vegenaise spread, dairy-free cheeses, plant-based dressings and VeganEgg. The multinational also purchased WhiteWave Foods back in 2017 adding Alpro, (dairy alternatives), Silk (also dairy alternatives) and So Delicious (dairy and dessert alternatives) into its plant-based portfolio.
  • Cargill just partnered with Dutch startup Bflike in a 50-50 joint venture to bring ‘next generation’ plant-based meat and fish alternatives to market, and it has a plant protein product line for industry.
  • PepsiCo and Beyond Meat got together earlier this year to work on plant-based snack products.
  • The world’s largest fish producer, Vinh Hoan Corporation, partnered with cell-based seafood tech Avant Meats in January.
  • Conagra Brands, Inc.’s brand, Gardein, is the second-largest in the meat alternatives market.
  • Louis Dreyfus Company was one of the big names on Good Catch seafood owner Gathered Foods’ latest funding round, which closed at €26.35M.
  • Kellogg’s Q1 earnings call boasted growth of their Morningstar Farms brand and subsidiary Incogmeato, widely-available product range including Bratwurst, plant-based mince, and Mickey Mouse-shaped Chik’n nuggets for the kids. On the call, Kellogg’s flexed that Morningstar’s penetration is “well above any of our competitors.”

Sponsored by Big Idea Ventures

Apply Now: Join the leading alt-protein accelerator 🌱🧫

Apply today if you’re an early-stage startup working on plant-based food or ingredients, food technology, and cellular agriculture technology.

Apply Here to fast-track your growth.
Deadline: 16th May (for early offers)


🛒 Retailers x Plant-Based

  • Tesco is charting their own course with a whopping 76 own-brand vegan products, earning them the recognition as the UK’s “Number One Plant-Based Supermarket.” The crown jewel in Tesco’s plant-based portfolio is their successful Wicked Kitchen line of “vegan food for meat eaters,” with 10M units sold in under 2 years of business.
  • Kroger’s popular Simple Truth line launched 53 items in 2020, with 18% growth in Q4, exceeding $1 billion in annual sales in 2020.
  • Co-op launched Gro, it's line of 35 meat-free products to meet the growing demand of vegetarian and plant-based consumers across their stores. Focussing first on UK favorites like the classic chili con carne to sticky toffee pudding.

🔎 Discover 20+ Plant based brands from Big Foods Companies here

A battle of Big Food vs Startups

❌ Challenges:

  • Big Food brands are competing with pioneers. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat got there first and are doing it really well.
  • Plus, a lot of the startups have crafted stories around their purpose and products, which engage consumers. In contrast, big food companies’ plant-based brands could appear faceless, or a ‘tick box’ exercise.
  • Consumer perception: do consumers really want to eat plant-based products from companies traditionally know for meat processing?

🔮 Our predictions:

  • Meat consumption has taken a hit this past year but is still, globally on an upwards trend. Meat demand will continue to increase, but in different regions. China consumes 28% of the world’s meat, including half of all pork, and India’s total meat consumption and livestock counts are some of the highest globally, and these numbers are only set to grow as the middle class expands and income increases. The only way meat companies will grow is through diversifying into a plant-based portfolio in developed countries, or selling meat into new markets.
  • 50:50 meat:plant is a tricky business. Nobody has (yet) figured out the right consumer messaging, and selling consumers a ‘compromise’ is hard. A potential win for products like Perdue’s Chicken Plus is industrial buyers focused on cost and nutrition (think hospitals and school cafeterias), or targeting exhausted parents trying to smuggle veg into their kids.
  • Fat and protein tech will continue to snowball. Producers will be able to make better products, faster, and at a more compelling price point, so will switch even more consumers.
  • Big Food, including the world’s largest meat producers, are going all-in on plant-based. Whether it’s grocery empires like Tesco and Kroger earning billions on their house brands, or global leaders like Nestle and Unilever with global rollouts, plant-based startups have cause for concern. These brands have deep experience and deep wallets, and are likely to muscle market share from the leading startups.
  • BUT, early innovators like Impossible Foods, with its proprietary ‘heme,’ have built a lot of loyalty and should remain a steadfast favourite because they’ve already won on message.

💡TLDR:

Big Food taking on plant-based is inevitable, but some will be more successful than others, and some might flop completely. Big firms have big money, meaning they can move fast, or acquire their way into this space. We foresee bullish investment and plenty of new product development in this space. 

Agree with our predictions or think we're way off? Hit reply and let us know - our writers love a good debate.

🔎 More: Discover 20+ Plant based brands from Big Foods Companies here (FREE)

Big Food is going all-in on the plant-based category, including many of the world’s biggest meat producers. Some are buying up or investing in startups or established plant-based brands, while others are trying to make it on their own with CPG ranges developed in-house.


From Tyson’s tumultuous experience with its Raised & Rooted range to JBS’s €341M Vivera acquisition, we’re taking a look at Big Food's newly found love affair with plants.

🌱 What:

‍Plant-based food is firmly in the mainstream, but industry pioneers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods face fierce competition. Not just from hungry startups, but from the big players too.

📈 Figures:

  • 6 out of 10 of the largest US meat producers have plant-based CPGs
  • 5 out of 10 of the largest European meat producers have plant-based CPGs
  • 2020 saw $3.1B investment into alternative proteins. Three times more than in 2019.
  • And plenty of the rounds were led by Big Food players: Tyson, Cargill, Nestlé, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Louis Dreyfus Company and more.

🤷‍♂️ Why:

Plant-based was growing in popularity pre-pandemic, but has undergone a seismic shift in the past year:

  • Some big producers saw meat plant closures linked to coronavirus outbreaks. As well as scandals around working conditions, these caused shortages, encouraging some consumers to try new things. 
  • Consumers generally became more aware of their health and the fragile nature of our global food supply system, so switched to plant-based alternatives...and stuck with them.
  • Protein technology has accelerated at warp speed through the past 18 months. Where some vegan alternatives may have been questionable in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional content, now most are delicious and, generally, clean-labelled.
We've gathered 20+ Big Food x Plant Based brands you should know about.

👀 Who: 

🥩 Big Meat x Plant Based

Plant-based products from Garden Gourmet (Nestle), Gro (Co-op), Raised & Rooted (Tyson)

🥫 Big Food x Plant-Based

  • Nestle invested heavily in plant-based in 2017 with the acquisition of Sweet Earth in the US, now running the Garden Gourmet brand in Europe and Harvest Gourmet in Asia. With a localized offering and marketing (kung pao chicken and pork belly in China, burger patties in the West), Nestle is quietly the most global plant-based player.
  • Unilever has pledged to build a $1B plant-based meat and dairy business within the next 5-7 years, launching a number of plant-based product including the vegan Magnum, Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo and Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free ice cream. They also acquired Netherlands-based The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018 which just scored a major deal with Burger King U.K. for their Vegan Royale and Plant-Based Whopper, and a China rollout with six Chinese-cuisine-friendly products for food service.
  • Danone acquired plant-based pioneer Follow Your Heart, earlier this year - the makers of Vegenaise spread, dairy-free cheeses, plant-based dressings and VeganEgg. The multinational also purchased WhiteWave Foods back in 2017 adding Alpro, (dairy alternatives), Silk (also dairy alternatives) and So Delicious (dairy and dessert alternatives) into its plant-based portfolio.
  • Cargill just partnered with Dutch startup Bflike in a 50-50 joint venture to bring ‘next generation’ plant-based meat and fish alternatives to market, and it has a plant protein product line for industry.
  • PepsiCo and Beyond Meat got together earlier this year to work on plant-based snack products.
  • The world’s largest fish producer, Vinh Hoan Corporation, partnered with cell-based seafood tech Avant Meats in January.
  • Conagra Brands, Inc.’s brand, Gardein, is the second-largest in the meat alternatives market.
  • Louis Dreyfus Company was one of the big names on Good Catch seafood owner Gathered Foods’ latest funding round, which closed at €26.35M.
  • Kellogg’s Q1 earnings call boasted growth of their Morningstar Farms brand and subsidiary Incogmeato, widely-available product range including Bratwurst, plant-based mince, and Mickey Mouse-shaped Chik’n nuggets for the kids. On the call, Kellogg’s flexed that Morningstar’s penetration is “well above any of our competitors.”

Sponsored by Big Idea Ventures

Apply Now: Join the leading alt-protein accelerator 🌱🧫

Apply today if you’re an early-stage startup working on plant-based food or ingredients, food technology, and cellular agriculture technology.

Apply Here to fast-track your growth.
Deadline: 16th May (for early offers)


🛒 Retailers x Plant-Based

  • Tesco is charting their own course with a whopping 76 own-brand vegan products, earning them the recognition as the UK’s “Number One Plant-Based Supermarket.” The crown jewel in Tesco’s plant-based portfolio is their successful Wicked Kitchen line of “vegan food for meat eaters,” with 10M units sold in under 2 years of business.
  • Kroger’s popular Simple Truth line launched 53 items in 2020, with 18% growth in Q4, exceeding $1 billion in annual sales in 2020.
  • Co-op launched Gro, it's line of 35 meat-free products to meet the growing demand of vegetarian and plant-based consumers across their stores. Focussing first on UK favorites like the classic chili con carne to sticky toffee pudding.

🔎 Discover 20+ Plant based brands from Big Foods Companies here

A battle of Big Food vs Startups

❌ Challenges:

  • Big Food brands are competing with pioneers. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat got there first and are doing it really well.
  • Plus, a lot of the startups have crafted stories around their purpose and products, which engage consumers. In contrast, big food companies’ plant-based brands could appear faceless, or a ‘tick box’ exercise.
  • Consumer perception: do consumers really want to eat plant-based products from companies traditionally know for meat processing?

🔮 Our predictions:

  • Meat consumption has taken a hit this past year but is still, globally on an upwards trend. Meat demand will continue to increase, but in different regions. China consumes 28% of the world’s meat, including half of all pork, and India’s total meat consumption and livestock counts are some of the highest globally, and these numbers are only set to grow as the middle class expands and income increases. The only way meat companies will grow is through diversifying into a plant-based portfolio in developed countries, or selling meat into new markets.
  • 50:50 meat:plant is a tricky business. Nobody has (yet) figured out the right consumer messaging, and selling consumers a ‘compromise’ is hard. A potential win for products like Perdue’s Chicken Plus is industrial buyers focused on cost and nutrition (think hospitals and school cafeterias), or targeting exhausted parents trying to smuggle veg into their kids.
  • Fat and protein tech will continue to snowball. Producers will be able to make better products, faster, and at a more compelling price point, so will switch even more consumers.
  • Big Food, including the world’s largest meat producers, are going all-in on plant-based. Whether it’s grocery empires like Tesco and Kroger earning billions on their house brands, or global leaders like Nestle and Unilever with global rollouts, plant-based startups have cause for concern. These brands have deep experience and deep wallets, and are likely to muscle market share from the leading startups.
  • BUT, early innovators like Impossible Foods, with its proprietary ‘heme,’ have built a lot of loyalty and should remain a steadfast favourite because they’ve already won on message.

💡TLDR:

Big Food taking on plant-based is inevitable, but some will be more successful than others, and some might flop completely. Big firms have big money, meaning they can move fast, or acquire their way into this space. We foresee bullish investment and plenty of new product development in this space. 

Agree with our predictions or think we're way off? Hit reply and let us know - our writers love a good debate.

🔎 More: Discover 20+ Plant based brands from Big Foods Companies here (FREE)

Big Food is going all-in on the plant-based category, including many of the world’s biggest meat producers. Some are buying up or investing in startups or established plant-based brands, while others are trying to make it on their own with CPG ranges developed in-house.


From Tyson’s tumultuous experience with its Raised & Rooted range to JBS’s €341M Vivera acquisition, we’re taking a look at Big Food's newly found love affair with plants.

🌱 What:

‍Plant-based food is firmly in the mainstream, but industry pioneers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods face fierce competition. Not just from hungry startups, but from the big players too.

📈 Figures:

  • 6 out of 10 of the largest US meat producers have plant-based CPGs
  • 5 out of 10 of the largest European meat producers have plant-based CPGs
  • 2020 saw $3.1B investment into alternative proteins. Three times more than in 2019.
  • And plenty of the rounds were led by Big Food players: Tyson, Cargill, Nestlé, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Louis Dreyfus Company and more.

🤷‍♂️ Why:

Plant-based was growing in popularity pre-pandemic, but has undergone a seismic shift in the past year:

  • Some big producers saw meat plant closures linked to coronavirus outbreaks. As well as scandals around working conditions, these caused shortages, encouraging some consumers to try new things. 
  • Consumers generally became more aware of their health and the fragile nature of our global food supply system, so switched to plant-based alternatives...and stuck with them.
  • Protein technology has accelerated at warp speed through the past 18 months. Where some vegan alternatives may have been questionable in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional content, now most are delicious and, generally, clean-labelled.
We've gathered 20+ Big Food x Plant Based brands you should know about.

👀 Who: 

🥩 Big Meat x Plant Based

Plant-based products from Garden Gourmet (Nestle), Gro (Co-op), Raised & Rooted (Tyson)

🥫 Big Food x Plant-Based

  • Nestle invested heavily in plant-based in 2017 with the acquisition of Sweet Earth in the US, now running the Garden Gourmet brand in Europe and Harvest Gourmet in Asia. With a localized offering and marketing (kung pao chicken and pork belly in China, burger patties in the West), Nestle is quietly the most global plant-based player.
  • Unilever has pledged to build a $1B plant-based meat and dairy business within the next 5-7 years, launching a number of plant-based product including the vegan Magnum, Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo and Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free ice cream. They also acquired Netherlands-based The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018 which just scored a major deal with Burger King U.K. for their Vegan Royale and Plant-Based Whopper, and a China rollout with six Chinese-cuisine-friendly products for food service.
  • Danone acquired plant-based pioneer Follow Your Heart, earlier this year - the makers of Vegenaise spread, dairy-free cheeses, plant-based dressings and VeganEgg. The multinational also purchased WhiteWave Foods back in 2017 adding Alpro, (dairy alternatives), Silk (also dairy alternatives) and So Delicious (dairy and dessert alternatives) into its plant-based portfolio.
  • Cargill just partnered with Dutch startup Bflike in a 50-50 joint venture to bring ‘next generation’ plant-based meat and fish alternatives to market, and it has a plant protein product line for industry.
  • PepsiCo and Beyond Meat got together earlier this year to work on plant-based snack products.
  • The world’s largest fish producer, Vinh Hoan Corporation, partnered with cell-based seafood tech Avant Meats in January.
  • Conagra Brands, Inc.’s brand, Gardein, is the second-largest in the meat alternatives market.
  • Louis Dreyfus Company was one of the big names on Good Catch seafood owner Gathered Foods’ latest funding round, which closed at €26.35M.
  • Kellogg’s Q1 earnings call boasted growth of their Morningstar Farms brand and subsidiary Incogmeato, widely-available product range including Bratwurst, plant-based mince, and Mickey Mouse-shaped Chik’n nuggets for the kids. On the call, Kellogg’s flexed that Morningstar’s penetration is “well above any of our competitors.”

Sponsored by Big Idea Ventures

Apply Now: Join the leading alt-protein accelerator 🌱🧫

Apply today if you’re an early-stage startup working on plant-based food or ingredients, food technology, and cellular agriculture technology.

Apply Here to fast-track your growth.
Deadline: 16th May (for early offers)


🛒 Retailers x Plant-Based

  • Tesco is charting their own course with a whopping 76 own-brand vegan products, earning them the recognition as the UK’s “Number One Plant-Based Supermarket.” The crown jewel in Tesco’s plant-based portfolio is their successful Wicked Kitchen line of “vegan food for meat eaters,” with 10M units sold in under 2 years of business.
  • Kroger’s popular Simple Truth line launched 53 items in 2020, with 18% growth in Q4, exceeding $1 billion in annual sales in 2020.
  • Co-op launched Gro, it's line of 35 meat-free products to meet the growing demand of vegetarian and plant-based consumers across their stores. Focussing first on UK favorites like the classic chili con carne to sticky toffee pudding.

🔎 Discover 20+ Plant based brands from Big Foods Companies here

A battle of Big Food vs Startups

❌ Challenges:

  • Big Food brands are competing with pioneers. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat got there first and are doing it really well.
  • Plus, a lot of the startups have crafted stories around their purpose and products, which engage consumers. In contrast, big food companies’ plant-based brands could appear faceless, or a ‘tick box’ exercise.
  • Consumer perception: do consumers really want to eat plant-based products from companies traditionally know for meat processing?

🔮 Our predictions:

  • Meat consumption has taken a hit this past year but is still, globally on an upwards trend. Meat demand will continue to increase, but in different regions. China consumes 28% of the world’s meat, including half of all pork, and India’s total meat consumption and livestock counts are some of the highest globally, and these numbers are only set to grow as the middle class expands and income increases. The only way meat companies will grow is through diversifying into a plant-based portfolio in developed countries, or selling meat into new markets.
  • 50:50 meat:plant is a tricky business. Nobody has (yet) figured out the right consumer messaging, and selling consumers a ‘compromise’ is hard. A potential win for products like Perdue’s Chicken Plus is industrial buyers focused on cost and nutrition (think hospitals and school cafeterias), or targeting exhausted parents trying to smuggle veg into their kids.
  • Fat and protein tech will continue to snowball. Producers will be able to make better products, faster, and at a more compelling price point, so will switch even more consumers.
  • Big Food, including the world’s largest meat producers, are going all-in on plant-based. Whether it’s grocery empires like Tesco and Kroger earning billions on their house brands, or global leaders like Nestle and Unilever with global rollouts, plant-based startups have cause for concern. These brands have deep experience and deep wallets, and are likely to muscle market share from the leading startups.
  • BUT, early innovators like Impossible Foods, with its proprietary ‘heme,’ have built a lot of loyalty and should remain a steadfast favourite because they’ve already won on message.

💡TLDR:

Big Food taking on plant-based is inevitable, but some will be more successful than others, and some might flop completely. Big firms have big money, meaning they can move fast, or acquire their way into this space. We foresee bullish investment and plenty of new product development in this space. 

Agree with our predictions or think we're way off? Hit reply and let us know - our writers love a good debate.

🔎 More: Discover 20+ Plant based brands from Big Foods Companies here (FREE)

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