- Campbell Soup is joining the Plant Based Food Association, a trade group representing the plant-based foods sector, according to a company statement.
- The food giant has been increasing the amount of vegetables and whole grains across its product portfolio in recent years. Among its brands with a plant-based emphasis are Bolthouse Farms, 1915 Organic and Garden Fresh Gourmet. The company recently launched a line of plant-based refrigerated milks, Bolthouse Farms Plant Protein Milk, made from pea protein.
- “We are committed to providing our consumers with food choices that meet their nutrition, well-being and lifestyle needs,” said Ed Carolan, Campbell Fresh president. “Working together with the Plant Based Foods Association, we can advance our shared goal of bringing more plant-based foods to consumers.”
Given Campbell Soup’s push toward healthier products, with a focus on adding more vegetables and whole grains in demand with consumers, the news that the food giant is joining the nascent plant-based trade group isn’t much of a surprise. Somewhat interesting, however, is that the announcement comes just three months after the company said it was leaving the Grocery Manufacturers Association at the end of this year.
In July, CEO Denise Morrison told investors that many of the company's beliefs have "diverged from the rest of the food industry and from our trade association. We had the experience of finding ourselves at odds with some of the positions."
PBFA’s mission, on the other hand, is “to ensure a fair and competitive marketplace for businesses selling plant-based foods ... and educating consumers about the benefits of plant-based foods." This pathway seems aligned with the direction Campbell Soup is heading.
During her tenure as CEO, Morrison has positioned Campbell as a go-to destination for consumers looking to purchase fresher, local products with a simpler roster of ingredients people know and view as healthy. In January 2016, Campbell was the first major company to tell consumers which of its products contained genetically modified ingredients by printing it on the label. By reformulating many of its legacy products while expanding its roster of new brands, largely through acquisitions, the food giant has positioned itself in the plant-based market in a big way.
And the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Nielsen research finds the plant-based food sector has grown by 8.1% in the past year, expanding its market size to $3.1 billion. The plant-based milk category was up 3.1%, while plant-based dairy alternatives — which include cheeses, yogurts and ice cream — grew by 20%. A Markets and Markets study projects the global plant-based protein market could reach $5 billion by 2020. The plant-based protein could represent a third of the overall protein market by 2054, according to Lux Research.
HealthFocus data said 17% of U.S. consumers aged 15 to 70 currently claim to eat a predominately plant-based diet, while 60% report to be cutting back on meat-based products. Of those who are reducing their intake of animal-based proteins, 55% say the change is permanent, and 22% hope that it is.
According to the company release, Campbell Soup becomes the first large food maker to join PBFA. The trade group’s current member roster includes 88 of the nation’s leading plant-based food companies, many of which are high-growth innovative upstarts — adding potential for a good two-way learning opportunity between Campbell and these businesses. Among some of the more widely recognized member names are: Coconut Bliss, Tofurky, Daiya Foods, Karma Nuts, Miyoko’s Kitchen and TerraVia.
Campbell's decision to join the PBFA looks like a win for both parties.
“We are thrilled to have Campbell join our membership,” said Michele Simon, executive director of The Plant Based Foods Association. “With their leadership, the plant-based foods sector is certain to grow even