by Corinne Gretler and Thomas Buckley | bloomberg
Nestle SA is introducing plant-based alternatives to eggs and shrimp as the world’s largest food company seeks to beat rivals in further expanding into protein substitutes.
The Swiss food giant said on Wednesday that vegetarian versions of eggs and shrimp can be used in cooking and food in the same way as the original products. These will be offered in a limited number of stores in certain European markets under the Garden Gourmet brand.
Egg substitute, which is in liquid form, contains soy protein and omega-3 fatty acids, while faux-prawn is made from seaweed, peas and a plant called konjac found in Asia.
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Nestle, which makes Nespresso coffee and DiGiorno pizza, is doubling down on its efforts to expand its plant-based offering after initially trailing rivals to join the vegetarian trend. Where Beyond Meat Inc. As upstart companies make meat substitutes mainstream, Nestle is relying on its vast distribution network to get its products to consumers through supermarkets around the world.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider said Nestle’s ambition is to “replace every animal protein” with plant-based proteins.
“We’re on to something that’s a major trend over time,” Schneider said at an event in London, “rather than a quarter- or year-round fad.”
KitKat chocolate maker is also trying to diversify its portfolio as it has faced criticism for its unhealthy products. The large food industry, led by multinationals such as Nestle and PepsiCo Inc., has been under increasing pressure from consumers and governments to create healthier products in recent years amid rising obesity and diabetes rates. According to the World Health Organization, global obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
Nestle has already closed its US confectionery unit and put its ice cream business there into a joint venture. It sold 60% of its Yinlu peanut milk and rice porridge business and European meat-processing brand Herta in China.
Total sales of the company’s plant-based food products last year totaled about 700 million francs ($753 million), while dairy substitutes generated about 100 million francs. The current portfolio includes options for meat, seafood and dairy products including ice cream and vegetarian confectionery.
Earlier this year, Nestle forayed into cow’s milk alternatives with its Wunda brand, which challenges Oatley AB and Danone’s Alpro. Nestle is also testing the waters for new technologies like cultured meat with Israeli cell-based startup Future Meat Technologies Ltd.