Nestlé to invest US$73m in new plant-based food factory in Serbia 

SERBIA – Swiss food manufacturing group Nestlé plans to invest CHF67m (US$73m) in the construction of a new plant-based food production facility in Serbia. 

The 18,440 sq m facility will be located close to the existing Nestlé factory in Surčin and will be used for the production of the Swiss company’s Garden Gourmet range, largely for export to other European markets. 

Nestlé said the first phase of construction has already been completed and the project has a final completion date of the last quarter of this year.  

When it is up and running, the facility will have a production capacity of 12,000 tons per year and will employ 330 people – Nestlé currently employs 550 people in the company’s existing factory and corporate headquarters in Serbia. 

At the moment, Garden Gourmet products for the European Union are produced in the Czech Republic and the Serbian facility is expected to this capacity. 

According to a Nestlé spokesperson, products manufactured at the new plant will be exported to France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and the UK.  

Investing in plant-based foods has become a strategic venture for most food corporations due to the high growth potential that the sector offers. 

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According to Statista, the global plant-based food market is expected to reach US$77.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2025.  

“The forecast projects that by 2030 the market will have more than doubled. For 2022, the model expects a market worth 44.2 billion U.S. dollars,” the statista report highlights. 

Nestlé has been keen to take advantage of this growth with CEO Mark Schneider describing its plant-based category as of “good, strong double-digit organic sales growth” for its alt-meat products. 

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The company has extended its plant-based offering into markets worldwide, including China where it launched its Harvest Gourmet brand in late 2020. 

Vegan kitkat discontinued because ‘it wasn’t as popular as others’ 

Expansion into plant-based is not always a guaranteed success as the Swiss food giant came to realise when it rolled out its vegan KitKat chocolate bars. 

According to VeganFoodUK, Nestle decided to discontinue its vegan KitKat because it wasn’t as popular as its non-vegan range. 

The company’s move ironically comes after Head of Confectionery, Alexander von Maillot, during the vegan Kitkat launch had declared that “one of the most common requests we see on social media is for a vegan KitKat, so we’re delighted to be able to make that wish come true.” 

Regardless of the failure by Nestle, reports suggest that the vegan chocolate market is soaring.  According to Research and Markets, the vegan chocolate market is expected to reach $1 billion by 2027, with a market growth of 12.3% CAGR. 

The market research firm added that the growth was particularly driven by millennials and the working population, who are actively seeking out dairy-free options for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. 

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