Moss Landing, CA — Nestle USA took a giant step into the plant-based foods segment with the acquisition of Sweet Earth, whose 48 products span the day and include Harmless Ham and Benevolent Bacon.
Launched in 2011 by co-founders Kelly and Brian Swette, Sweet Earth’s award-winning frozen meals, burritos, breakfast sandwiches, and chilled plant-based burgers and proteins are sold in more than 10,000 stores, including independent natural grocers, Whole Foods, Target, Kroger and Walmart.
“In the United States, we’re experiencing a consumer shift toward plant-based proteins. 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,” said Paul Grimwood, Nestlé USA Chairman and CEO. “One of Nestlé’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 Nestlé a leading position in this emerging space.”
The founders will continue to run the company, which operates a 40,000-square-foot facility producing Sweet Earth’s products such as vegan and ethnic-inspired choices General Tso’s Tofu and the Curry Tiger Burrito.
Its products are sold in more than 10,000 stores, including independent natural grocers, Whole Foods, Target, Kroger and Walmart. According to the Associated Press, Sweet Earth posted $25 million in revenue last year.
Nestle says plant-based foods are expected to become a $5 billion market by 2020 in the U.S.
“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,” Kelly Swette, Sweet Earth’s CEO, said in a statement. “Nestle’s acquisition validates what forward-thinking consumers and retailers have been demanding for a while — more wholesome and sustainable choices.”
In June, Nestle became the main investor in the $77 million round of new funding in meal kit startup Freshly.