UK – Consumer packaged goods (CPG) giant Unilever has announced a new partnership with Enough, a Scotland based food company specializing in mycoprotein technology, to bolster its plant-based strategy.
Enough’s technology uses a unique zero-waste fermentation process to grow a high-quality protein containing all essential amino acids as well as being high in dietary fibre.
To develop the proteins which Enough calls Abunda, natural fungi are fed with renewable feedstock, such as wheat and corn.
With the partnership, Unilever will add the Abunda protein to its existing meat products under The Vegetarian Butcher brand.
This is expected to further bolster the fast-growing meat-alternative brand which saw a 70 percent growth last year.
The partnership comes at a time when the alternative meat market is experiencing a boom due to increased demand from health-conscious consumers who consider it more healthy compared to conventional meat.
According to a report by Euromonitor, the global meat substitutes sector which is currently valued at US$20.7 billion is set to grow to $23.2 billion by 2024., presenting new opportunities for both establish and new market players.
Euromonitor notes that this growth is being spurred by concerns ranging from animal welfare to food security and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unilever itself acknowledges that the company’s continued plant-based push is informed by this growing demand for alternative proteins.
“As one of the world’s largest food companies, we have a critical role to play in helping to transform the global food system,” says Carla Hilhorst, EVP of R&D, Foods and Refreshment, at Unilever.
“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,” Hilhorst adds.
Apart from meeting consumer demand, Plant-based innovations are part of Unilever’s strategic focus to develop its portfolio into high-growth spaces.
The company bets on this segment to contribute toward its annual global sales target of €1 billion (US$1.2 billion) from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives by 2025 to 2027.
The Vegetarian Butcher – which Unilever acquired in 2018 – is a critical part of Unilever’s agenda and has a growing portfolio of products targeting meat lovers and flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans alike.
It also recently launched a vegan Raw Burger, delivering a beef burger’s taste and juicy tenderness cooked rare.
Earlier this year, the plant-based brand also expanded its partnership with fast food giant Burger King to launch the Plant-Based Whopper in Latin America, the Caribbean and China.
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