- WhiteWave Foods is riding the plant-based foods and beverages trend to the tune of an additional $3 billion in sales the company has identified as the category continues to grow, WhiteWave chairman and CEO Gregg Engles said during the Jefferies Consumer Conference this week.
- The company based its calculations in part on the 9% share plant-based products have in the U.S. dairy category today and the opportunities for growth and innovation within the plant-based category, Engles said.
- WhiteWave's Americas plant-based foods and beverages business, which includes brands like Silk, So Delicious, and Vega, generated sales of about $920 million in fiscal 2015, with 32% U.S. household penetration.
Plant-based dairy gets a lot of attention, but plant-based nutritionals are another opportunistic category for WhiteWave, which the company is capitalizing on with its 2015 Vega acquisition. Vega was a significant contributor to the 29% sales growth for WhiteWave's plant-based food and beverage business last quarter.
Overall, the nutritionals category is valued at about $9 billion with double-digit annual growth in recent years, Engles said. Plant-based products hold only a 5% share of the category in conventional retail channels compared to a more than 60% share in the natural retail channel, he added. This demonstrates both demand and growth opportunities for the segment.
Also, Engles points to the sizable investment the company has made in this area and says it will be difficult for other companies to catch up.
However, faster adoption may not be far behind. Startups and even retailers' private labels have increasingly explored this category, Engles said. And Unilever's Ben & Jerry's brand announced a line of non-dairy, almond milk-based ice creams earlier this year.