Nestle to acquire plant-based meal company

by Rebekah Schouten
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Sweet Earth, Nestle
Sweet Earth manufactures plant-based foods, including frozen meals, burritos, breakfast sandwiches and chilled plant-based burgers and proteins.

ARLINGTON, VA. — Nestle USA has agreed to acquire Sweet Earth, a manufacturer of plant-based foods, including frozen meals, burritos, breakfast sandwiches and chilled plant-based burgers and proteins. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“The acquisition gives Nestle immediate entry into the plant-based foods segment, which is growing by double digits and expected to become a $5 billion market by 2020,” Nestle said. “Sweet Earth’s portfolio spans all meal occasions, diversifying Nestle’s offering beyond its existing category leadership in meals and snacks.”

Launched in 2011, Sweet Earth offers products spanning three core platforms: entrees, breakfast and plant-based proteins, called Righteous Meats. Its products feature global flavors and plant-based proteins such as seitan, tofu, chickpeas and beans and include a variety of vegan and ethnic-inspired options, such as General Tso’s Tofu and the Curry Tiger Burrito.

Kelly Swette, Sweet Earth, Nestle
Kelly Swette, c.e.o. and co-founder of Sweet Earth

“Our products meet the demands of flavor-forward consumers who want more plant-based foods, especially millennials who want convenient, real food and flexitarians who are looking to include more vegetables and plant-based proteins in their diet,” said Kelly Swette, chief executive officer of Sweet Earth. “Nestle’s acquisition validates what forward-thinking consumers and retailers have been demanding for a while – more wholesome and sustainable choices.”

Sweet Earth produces its product lines — which consist of 48 items — in a 40,000-square-foot facility at its Moss Landing, Calif., headquarters. The company’s products are sold in more than 10,000 stores, including Whole Foods Market, Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger and independent natural grocers.

Paul Grimwood, Nestle
Paul Grimwood, chairman and c.e.o. of Nestle USA

“In the United States, we’re experiencing a consumer shift toward plant-based proteins,” said Paul Grimwood, chairman and c.e.o. of Nestle USA. “In fact, as many as 50% of consumers now are seeking more plant-based foods in their diet, and 40% are open to reducing their traditional meat consumption. One of Nestle’s strategic priorities is to build out our portfolio of vegetarian and flexitarian choices in line with modern health trends. With unique and nutritious food for all times of the day, Sweet Earth gives Nestle a leading position in this emerging space.”

Sweet Earth will continue to be led by its founders, Kelly and Brian Swette, and will remain independent with support from Nestle USA’s Food Division. 
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By Samuel 12/2/2017 4:56:56 PM
It's nice to see Nestle move into plant-based foods. What it needs to do though is to start transitioning away from the use of dairy and dairy ingredients like whey and others in its products. We know dairy cows and beef cattle emit huge volumes of methane - belching out the mouth and out the back as most people think. Methane is a climate-changing greenhouse gas that is 25X more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat. Climate responsible corporations will do everything they can to reduce the use of dairy ingredients and switch to plant ingredients wherever possible. Sometime soon, within a few years, consumers will take aim at dairy and it will help companies like Nestle if they can be seen as having already taken strong measures. I get that you can't get rid of all dairy ingredients and I'm not advocating a ban. I love dairy and cheese but until the methane problem is solved, I'm going to reduce it as much as possible.