Nestle buys vegetarian meals maker Sweet Earth — AP Newsbreak

Sweet Earth, which is known for its vegetarian and non-GMO frozen burritos and breakfast sandwiches, is now in more than 10,000 stores across the country, including Walmart and Whole Foods.

Nestle has agreed to buy Sweet Earth, a US-based maker of meatless frozen foods, as it looks to expand its portfolio of healthier products.

The move echoes efforts by packaged food conglomerates across the world that have been trying to appeal more to consumers who favor fresher foods, smaller, local brands and are anxious about the ingredients they eat.

Unilever also announced an acquisition on Thursday, of small organic herbal tea brand Pukka.

“This segment has been identified for us globally as a key area a few years ago”, Wayne England, head of strategic food operations at Nestle said in a statement.

The Swiss-based food giant says it expects the US market for plant-based foods such as Sweet Earth’s Harmless Ham and Benevolent Bacon to be worth around $5 billion by 2020, as environmental and dietary trends push consumers in the direction of more sustainable food production methods.

Nestle, which is based in Vevey, Switzerland, declined to specify the cost of the deal.

Breakfast sandwiches produced by Sweet Earth. The acquisition comes less than three months after Nestle said it had bought a stake in subscription-meals company Freshly, which sells healthy, prepared meals to consumers across the U.S.

Nestle said the purchase will allow it immediate entry into the vegan and vegetarian market, which is growing by double digit and is expected to become a $5 billion market by 2020. The firm makes frozen meals, burritos and chilled plant-based burgers and proteins that are sold in more than 10,000 stores, including Whole Foods and Walmart.

Kelly, who is Sweet Earth’s CEO, said: “Our products meet the demands of flavour-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”. “We have a drive to find the trend of authenticity in every one of our products”. It says the market has been growing in high double-digit percentage rates.

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