The Campbell Soup Co. has set its sights firmly on the future. As the newest member of the Plant Based Foods Association, it’s clear the company thinks plants play a critical role in directing our food supply.
“We are committed to providing our consumers with food choices that meet their nutrition, well-being, and lifestyle needs,” Ed Carolan, president of Campbell Fresh, the division that includes both the Garden Fresh Gourmet and Bolthouse Farms lines, said in a statement. “Working together with the Plant Based Foods Association, we can advance our shared goal of bringing more plant-based foods to consumers.”
The New Jersey based manufacturer of brands including Pepperidge Farms, Prego, and Swanson announced earlier this year that it was exiting the Grocery Manufacturers Association over differences on the labeling of genetically modified ingredients. (Nestlé just announced its exit last week.)
In recent years, Campbell has become incredibly responsive to consumer concerns. It’s voluntarily labeled genetically modified ingredients and removed BPA (bisphenol-A) from its soup can linings, two highly controversial practices that many consumers are becoming more concerned about. It's also made recent acquisitions that signal a new direction for the iconic brand: In 2012 it purchased Bolthouse Farms, the produce and juice manufacturer, and earlier this year it acquired Pacific Foods, which makes a variety of soups, broths, and nondairy milks.
“We are thrilled to have Campbell join our membership,” said Michele Simon, executive director of The Plant Based Foods Association. “With their leadership, the plant-based foods sector is certain to grow even faster. We look forward to a long and productive partnership.”
The Plant Based Foods Association launched nearly two years ago and has attracted mostly companies already well-known in the sector – companies like Daiya, The Tofurky Company, and Follow Your Heart. The addition of Campbell’s marks a significant milestone for the PBFA – it’s the first major food company of its kind to join, and it’s particularly significant given its recent departure from the GMA, even though it says the decisions were mutually exclusive.
“Plant-based foods and proteins are not exclusive to vegetarian and vegan households any longer,” Isabel Morales, consumer insights manager at Nielsen, told Bloomberg. According to Nielsen data, more than 20 percent of meat-eaters say they’re trying to reduce their meat intake.
“The $3.1 billion plant-based food market increased 8.1 percent in the last year," Bloomberg notes, "while total foods sold in the same supermarket aisles, including deli, dairy, and frozen, declined 0.2 percent.”
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