02 December 2021

Our November roundup: Unilever’s regenerative projects, Nestle’s e-commerce push, and the future of fighting mold

Our November roundup includes Unilever's regenerative projects, Nestle's e-commerce push, the next generation of sugar alternatives, JBS' investment into a cultivated meat company and the future of fighting mold. Read on for everything you need to know from last month's CPG news.

Christina Carè

Sevendots, London

7 minute read

Welcome to another monthly roundup covering all the latest items of interest from across the CPG industry (and those adjacent to it!). This month, me and my fellow Sevendots colleagues have enjoyed a real range of pieces that you may have missed – here’s a selection, with a handy summary.

Unilever’s Knorr to launch 50 regenerative agriculture projects over five years

Food Dive

Read the full piece here.

One from late October, Food Dive helps draw attention to Unilever’s Knorr rice and seasonings brand announcing plans to begin 50 projects to implement regenerative agriculture across its global supply chain. The aim is to address 80% of its key ingredients by 2026.

[Unilever] announced that it aims to have zero emissions in its operations by 2030, and be fully net zero across its value chain by 2039. The company considers this a more ambitious goal than other leading CPGs, many who have said they aim to hit net zero by 2050.

While aware of the various challenges their goals may present, Stefani Millie, senior manager of sustainability at Unilever U.S., has stated that they are embracing “really big, audacious goals” which it is believed can have a greater impact than carrying out simpler or easier projects.

In short: Unilever’s Knorr has big bold plans for enacting its sustainability credentials, looking to implement 50 regenerative agriculture projects across its supply chain.

Welcome to the Next Generation of Sugar Replacements


Read the full piece here.

In this piece from Bloomberg, the new alternatives to sugar are discussed in light of a strong trend against sugar – particularly after the start of the pandemic. With health concerns rising around the globe, consumer data has shown that the search for better information about the sugar content of products is in demand. The piece discusses alternatives like allulose, Incredo and Supplant.

In a 2021 nutrition survey on reasons to avoid sugar, more than 57% of respondents said doing so “makes them feel healthier.” An equally high percentage reported “it’s better for me to avoid these ingredients.” The coronavirus pandemic has helped accelerate this trend, as some 79% of global consumers said they’re planning to eat and drink more healthily over the next year, according to a report by consumer research firm FMCG Gurus. Of those consumers, 56% plan to reduce sugar intake. 

In short: Alternatives are becoming better, cheaper and more available, but production issues have halted the takeover of alternative sugar offerings in the past. Supplant and Incredo are both doing their best to win over customers, but neither is close to allulose in terms of market penetration. With consumers more aware of the health implications of sugar than ever, this is a key ingredient that is being rethought.

The Next Big Thing for RNA? Fixing Moldy Food


Take a listen here.

You might never have heard of it, but Botrytis cinerea is a particularly painful mold for farmers. This species of fungus alone is responsible for at least $10 billion in damage to farmers’ crops each year, though some estimates put the figure as high as $100 billion. RNA technology, however, is promising a possible tool in the fight against this mold – one that could unlock a fungus-fighting power that has nothing to do with traditional pesticides.

RNA crop sprays could have some major advantages over the current toolbox of chemical-based pesticides. Microbes break down RNA in the soil within a couple of days, which lessens the problem of environmental buildup. And because RNA sprays would target genes specific to individual species, there is—at least theoretically—a much lower chance that other organisms would get caught in the crossfire.

In short: Mold is one of the biggest causes of waste in food production for farmers. RNA could hold the key to a solution that works around increasing incidents of pesticide resistance.

Can we stomach the latest emerging food innovations?


Read the whole article here.

This accessible take from the BBC covers several of the main ways in which the food industry is innovating in order to bring us burgers – while less CPG-focused than our own Alternative Proteins article, this one highlights for the general public an understanding of the main types of innovations underway, as well as the key barriers to their becoming mainstream.

In short: Getting consumers on board with alternative sources of meat is all about understanding the options and how soon they are likely to become mainstream choices. This article sets out a few of the key contenders to understand the future of the humble cheeseburger.

Two-thirds of Gen Z believe current food systems are ‘destroying the planet’: survey

AG Funder News

Read the whole article here.

In a survey of over 2,000 Gen Z individuals (in this case, people between the ages of 18 to 24), 78% of respondents agreed with the sentiment that society needs to take “urgent action to make the ways in which we produce and consume food more sustainable.” 66% said that extant systems of food production and consumption are “destroying the planet, and that the situation is only getting worse.” This research was commissioned by EIT Food, the EU’s agrifood innovation agency, and involved a survey of Gen Zers in France, Germany, Poland, Spain, and the UK. EIT Food published the results as part of its ‘The Menu for Change‘, a new “manifesto” aimed at enhancing sustainability and human health in agrifood systems.

In short: Gen Z are more concerned about the environment than ever – but in particular, their emphasis is on locally grown and produced as well as plant-based alternatives when it comes to food choices. 61% said agrifood industries have “become less sustainable in recent years.” There are plenty of opportunities here to do more to impress Gen Z consumers.

5 ways brands are talking about sustainability without risking greenwashing

Think with Google

Read the full article here.

Think with Google presents some interesting data about how advertising has traditionally failed to shift conversation or pique consumer interest on the subject of sustainability. In the past, this was driven more by the intervention of key activist figures in the space. However, with COP26, the disussion has begun to grow ever more present, and brands are becoming more successful in telling stories about sustainability without the risk of being accused of greenwashing. In this piece, Think outlines 5 strategies that advertisers have taken to tell a sustainable story that resonates with consumers.

In short: Here are 5 interesting examples of the strategies brands have taken up to tell better sustainability stories, without committing ‘greenwashing’ faux pas.

And while you’re here…

Marketing Takeaways from YouTube UK’s Culture and Trends Report

Think with Google

Watch the video here:

In short: Digital experiences make us part of a “more connected world”. Viewers want to be a part of a shared experience – make sure your brand shows up ready to connect.

Brief: JBS to acquire cultivated meat company in $100m investment

AG Funder News

Read the whole article here.

The world’s largest meat processor plans to acquire a majority share of Spanish cultivated meat company BioTech Foods as part of a $100 million investment. This represents a good step forward for the cultivated meat industry, which has faced questions over the economic viability of this alternative. Plans to build a new plant that can produce up to 1,000 tonnes of cultivated meat a year will help move towards making this option more accessible.

In short: Meat processing giant JBS has acquired a majority share of BioTech Foods, keeping investment flowing into the cultivated meat space.

E.U. seeks to block import of commodities that drive deforestation

The Washington Post

Read the whole article here.

The EU has proposed to block the importation of goods and materials that drive deforestation. Here’s the quote you need:

Importers of commodities including coffee, cocoa, soy, beef, palm oil and wood — as well as products made from those materials, such as furniture and chocolate — would be required to identify the geographic coordinates of the land where the materials were produced. To qualify as “deforestation-free,” the land cannot have been deforested or degraded since Dec. 31, 2020.

Copa-Cogeca, representing the European agricultural industry, has said the proposal is “incompatible” with the World trade Organization’s rules, which may severely impact future trade relationships. While this all still needs to be discussed and approved by the European Parliament, it’s an ambitious call for action towards more sustainable consumption.

In short: Products and materials seen to contribute to deforestation are included in a proposed ban from the European Union. This is early news, so keep following the story!

Revealed: The food companies leading the way in artificial intelligence

Just Food

Read the whole article here.

Artificial Intelligence represents a key element of digital transformation, and forms the basis of so much marketing activity – and more complex marketing activity – as new technologies emerge. In this piece, Just Food breaks down the investment that has gone into AI from the world’s biggest food companies. It’s a straightforward assessment of interest the companies have shown in this area.

In short:

According to our analysis, Unilever, Lindt and Japan-based snacks group Calbee feature in the list of companies best positioned to benefit from investments in artificial intelligence… Food-ingredients suppliers Firmenich, Givaudan and Symrise also score highly.

Anti-smoking style warnings on kids’ sugar-sweetened fruit drinks reduce purchases: study

Beverage Daily

Read the whole article here.

In more sugar-related news, health messages placed on sugar-sweetened fruit drinks for children have successfully convinced a percentage of parents to avoid them – researchers studying this found that purchases declined 43% as a result of exposure to ‘countermessages’, designed to mimic the tactics of anti-smoking advertising. in other words, these messages were designed to “elicit outrage, fear of the harmful effects on children and other negative emotions.” One of our Partners, Colin McAllister, says, “The piece signals the potential direction that could well also be taken by legislation in order to steer consumption habits.”

In short: Advertisements designed to provide countermessages, dissuading sugar-sweetened drink purchases in the Latinx community, were found to be highly effective. Anti-sugar sentiment continues…

Nestlé in ‘push to almost double e-commerce sales’

Just Food

Read the whole article here.

In this piece, Just Food discusses Nestle’s plans to double the proportion of annual sales through e-commerce. Bernard Meunier, head of Nestlé’s strategic business units and marketing and sales, has said, “We plan to take [e-commerce] sales from about 13% in 2020 to 25% by 2025.” To achieve this ambitious goal, the plan is to increase digital marketing investment, particularly hiring staff to support the effort in house, rather than relying on external agencies.

In short: Nestle’s plans to double e-commerse sales will require a big push, but speaks to the pandemic-related impetus to keep improving on e-commerce access to products.

There you have it, the roundup from November. We hope you feel a little more informed for now, and we’ll see you for our curated roundup in the new year!

Want to share a piece that is inspiring you in next month’s roundup? Drop me an email here.

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