Danone North America's new Honest to Goodness brand is launching a line of vegan plant-based creamers that support local communities where its ingredients are sourced and prioritizes the transparency of its supply chain.
The creamers, which are lactose-, gluten- and carrageenan-free, and non-GMO project verified, are available in three flavors: Madagascan Vanilla Bean, Unsweetened Madagascan Vanilla Bean and Himalayan Salted Caramel. They are available at Amazon Fresh, Fresh Direct and select retailers in 16-ounce single-serve packages.
The new launch comes as homebound consumers prepare more of their own coffee and increase consumption of plant-based products during the pandemic. Shoppers also are demanding additional transparency in the items they purchase, such as where the ingredients are sourced and labor practices used to raise them.
Honest to Goodness' new coffee creamers aim to do more than offer another option for the morning coffee routine — they are also helping Danone North America define its commitment to transparency.
The brand's website features a FAQ section explaining where each ingredient in its creamers comes from, including Brazilian organic sugar, coconuts from the Philippines, fava bean protein from the U.S. and salt from the Himalayas.
Honest to Goodness also explains its commitment to Danone North America's goals as a B Corp in making the creamers. As the world's largest B Corp company, the maker of Silk plant-based beverages, Dannon yogurt and Evian water has agreed to use its business as a force for good by setting social and environmental, accountability and transparency goals. Most recently, it upped its commitments to improve water stewardship and adopt sustainable agricultural practices as part of the Ceres and World Wildlife Fund AgWater Challenge.
In addition to embracing transparency, Honest to Goodness is making community support a key piece of the brand's identity. As part of the plant-based creamer's debut, the brand is partnering with EarthDay.org's The Canopy Project in Madagascar to work with local tree-planting groups to promote environmental literacy and agroforestry best practices as well as support economic development.
Consumers have been vocal in asking brands to be more transparent about how their food is made. According to a 2019 report from NielsenIQ, consumers have adopted a "healthy for me, healthy for we" mindset when shopping. Along with thinking about the supply chain when shopping, consumers also are more willing to spend their money on brands that align with their values. A 2019 study from Toluna found consumers will pay up to 5% more for environmentally friendly products.
Other companies are making strides toward transparency and sustainability. Cargill has committed to improve the traceability of its palm oil supply chain, and has adopted 100% traceability for its products sourced with cocoa, according to Food Ingredients First. The food processor also created a Sustainable Cookie Concept in which each major ingredient in the prototype treat will offer transparency and sustainability. And Nestlé, the world's largest food manufacturer, is working with its farmers and suppliers on regenerative agricultural practices.
Danone's new creamer comes as sales in the category soar. Liquid coffee creamer sales have risen 18.2% in the last 52 weeks ending Feb. 27, 2021, to $3.6 billion, according to Nielsen. This is up from about $2.45 billion in sales only four years ago. The category continues to be dominated by Nestlé's Coffee-mate and Danone's International Delight. One criticism levied by newcomers such as Chobani to the creamer creamer category is that many of Danone's and Nestlé’s creamers are made mostly of vegetable oil and sugar. As shoppers place a greater importance in healthier, clean-label offerings, sales of plant-based and real milk creamers have grown in popularity. Honest to Goodness provides Danone another way to differentiate itself with a product that targets a new category of consumers compared to those who purchase its popular International Delight offering or Silk plant-based creamers.
For now, Honest to Goodness is focused on creamers, but if all goes well, it could expand into other product segments that can benefit from its "purpose-driven" approach. Its success also could encourage other companies to consider launching new brands dedicated to transparency around ingredients, and be more forthcoming about how they source, produce and distribute all of their products.