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Unilever has announced its €1 billion (around $1.2 billion) annual sales target for plant-based foods by the year 2027.

Brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s and Magnum will help push the corporation’s estimated five-fold sales growth.

It will also drive sales by new product launches from The Vegetarian Butcher – which it acquired two years ago.

The ambitious target is part of the company’s Future Foods initiative. The incentive commits the food giant ‘to make healthier and sustainable food affordable for everyone’.

Unilever has announced other targets such as halving food waste in direct operations from factory to shelf by 2025.

Moreover, it has pledged to continue lowering calorie, salt, and sugar content in its products. 

‘Reducing meat consumption is essential’

“So why plant-based foods?” Unilever wrote in an online statement.

“Animal agriculture is known to be the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels. [It is also] a cause of deforestation, water and air pollution, and biodiversity loss. 

“Reducing our meat consumption is essential… We know that a diverse, plant-based diet is better for our health and the health of the planet. But if we want people to make the switch, we need plant-based options to be more accessible, affordable, and appetising.”

Unilever added that its sales target will result in a ‘wider range of vegan and vegetarian’ options.

‘We may not lose the planet’

Hanneke Faber is the President of Unilever’s food and refreshment business.

She said the initiative will help the ‘world figure out how we can eat more plant-based’.

Faber added: “That way we may not lose the planet.

“I think we’re at the very beginning, for meat and dairy substitutes, of their market growth. They’re still tiny compared to the overall meat and dairy markets. 

“In the most developed countries, it’s five percent of meat or dairy. Some predictions say it could go to 50 percent.”

You can read Unilever’s full statement here

Liam Giliver

Liam is the former Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. He has written for The Independent, Huffington Post, Attitude Magazine, and more. He is also the author of 'We're Worried About Him'.