London, England-headquartered Unilever has announced that it will partner with Enough, a Glasgow, Scotland-based food-tech company (formerly known as 3F BIO) to bring new plant-based meat products to market.
Enough’s technology uses a unique zero-waste fermentation process to grow a high-quality protein. Natural fungi are fed with renewable feedstock, such as wheat and corn. This produces Abunda mycoprotein, a complete food ingredient containing all essential amino acids as well as being high in dietary fibre. The global faux meat sector is experiencing explosive growth, with recent estimates suggesting that this sector will hit US $290 billion in value by 2035.
The game-changing protein is a natural fit for Unilever’s fast-expanding meat-alternative brand, The Vegetarian Butcher, which grew over 70% in 2020. With a broad range of products for meat eaters, flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans alike, the brand is on a mission to become the largest “butcher” in the world by inspiring a plant-based food revolution.
Powered by cutting-edge innovation, The Vegetarian Butcher uses a diverse blend of plant-based proteins to create meat-like tastes and textures for its wide-ranging portfolio, which is now available in markets in 45 countries across four continents. The Vegetarian Butcher’s recently launched vegan Raw Burger delivers the taste and juicy tenderness of a beef burger cooked rare, while its partnership with the Burger King QSR chain has brought products like the Plant-Based Whopper, Plant-Based Nuggets and Vegan Royale to meat-lovers in more than 35 countries around the world.
“Plant-based foods is one of our fastest growing segments and we’re delighted to partner with Enough to develop more sustainable protein products that are delicious, nutritious, and a force for good,” said Carla Hilhorst, executive vice president of research and development for foods and refreshment at Unilever. “We’re excited by the potential that this technology has for future innovations across our portfolio, and we can’t wait to launch more plant-based foods that help people cut down on meat, without compromising on taste.”
Andrew Beasley, commercial director of Enough remarked: “Producing vast quantities of healthy and sustainable protein is one of the most urgent global priorities. There’s a rapid transition in the food industry and we are excited with this collaboration with Unilever and The Vegetarian Butcher, which truly supports our aim to create impact and scale.”
Plant-based innovations are aimed at supporting the delivery of Unilever’s strategic focus on developing the portfolio into high-growth spaces, and contribute towards its annual global sales target of €1 billion from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives by 2025-2027. The target forms part of the company’s ‘Future Foods’ ambition, launched globally with two key objectives: to help people transition towards healthier diets and to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain.
According to Unilever, recent research suggests that Europe and North America will reach “peak meat” by 2025, at which point it is expected that consumption of animal meat will start to fall. The global meat-free sector is forecast to be worth US $290 billion in 2035, by which point there will be “realistic alternatives” for nine out of ten of the world’s favorite dishes.
Unilever has been successfully promoting its plant-based meat and dairy alternatives business for several years. Since acquiring The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018, it has expanded the plant-based meat brand into more than 45 countries. The Vegetarian Butcher was chosen as the supplier of Burger King’s Plant-Based Whopper across Europe, China, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa, as well as Burger King’s Plant-Based Nuggets across Europe, and the newly-launched Vegan Royale in the UK and Netherlands.