Carrefour launches plant-based venture with major food companies

Unilever and Danone are among those to have signed up to the initiative.

Andy Coyne September 07 2023

A group of food manufacturers including Unilever and Danone are teaming up with Carrefour to try to drive sales of plant-based products.

The French retailer has set itself the target of reaching €500m ($535.5m) in sales of plant-based protein products by that date in Europe - a 65% increase on 2022.

The other five manufacturers which will be part of the “coalition” are Bel, Andros, Bonduelle, Nutrition & Santé and Savencia.

Carrefour said the venture will see a “set of joint actions”.

A steering committee will be set up, made up of representatives of the eight founding partners. This will meet regularly to measure results and define initiatives to be implemented.

Aims will include testing innovation in tastes and flavours, organising promotional campaigns, offering customer recipes and exchanging good practice advice on the development of plant-based alternatives.

The manufacturers have already worked with Carrefour during a 2022 plant-based food promotional campaign and during the international competition for plant-based start-ups organised by Carrefour in June last year.

Carrefour said the creation of this coalition responds to a growing demand from consumers, who are increasingly turning to vegetable proteins.

Statistics from The Good Food Institute Europe reveal that France is the fifth largest plant-based food retail market in Europe and that sales are continuing to grow - increasing by 5% to €425.7m between 2020 and 2022.

Alexandre Bompard, the chairman and CEO of Carrefour, said: “We want to offer a plant-based alternative offer that is up to the climate challenge, by reducing the carbon footprint of our food, but also the challenge of inflation, by offering a healthy and balanced [option] at affordable prices.

“Engaging our sector in this process is a collective responsibility, and I hope that other groups will join us in this coalition.”

However, one fly in the ointment could be that, earlier this week, the French government revealed it is revisiting a plan to prohibit the use of animal-derived names for plant-based foods such as ‘steak’.

The country’s Ministry of Agriculture took a step to ban animal-related designations for products incorporating vegetable protein alternatives with a labelling law in 2020. The subsequent decree was due to be implemented in 2022 but was, however, suspended.

And in some other markets, plant-based food manufacturers have reported dipping sales with a number - such as the UK's Plant & Bean - even going into administration in a tough operating environment.

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