The acquisition gives Nestlé immediate entry into the plant-based foods segment, which is growing by double digits and expected to become a $5 billion market by 2020. Sweet Earth’s portfolio spans all meal occasions, diversifying Nestlé’s offering beyond its existing category leadership in meals and snacks.
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 percent of consumers now are seeking more plant-based foods in their diet and 40 percent 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.”
Sweet Earth produces its product lines (48 items) in a 40,000-square-foot facility at its Moss Landing headquarters. Sweet Earth’s on-trend products feature global flavors and plant-based proteins like seitan (wheat-based), tofu and legumes like lentils, chickpeas and beans. Sweet Earth’s products span three core platforms: entrees, breakfast and plant-based proteins, called Righteous Meats. The products are wholesome, nutritious, and include a variety of vegan and ethnic-inspired choices such as General Tso’s Tofu and the Curry Tiger Burrito.
“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, Sweet Earth CEO. “Nestlé’s acquisition validates what forward-thinking consumers and retailers have been demanding for a while -- more wholesome and sustainable choices.”
Sweet Earth will continue to be led by Kelly and Brian Swette; the business will remain independent with support from Nestlé USA’s Food Division.
The Sweet Earth acquisition follows Nestlé’s recent equity stake in Freshly, a direct-to-consumer delivery service, and continues the company’s evolution into new products and categories to match changing consumer preferences.