Vivera Foodgroup has set its sights on a meatless future following the divestiture of meat company Enkco. The group’s remaining plant-based companies – Vivera, Culifrost and Dutch Tofu Company – will reportedly enjoy large-scale investments in the coming period to expand production capacity and product range. Vivera has a strong position in the European market and is one of the largest producers of plant-based products in Europe. Most of Enkco’s 100 employees are to be employed by Vivera Foodgroup.
Enkco, a specialist in chilled and deep-frozen meat products, was sold to Dutch Van Loon Group at the end of May 2019. As a result of the sale, Vivera Foodgroup reports it will be able to focus more on the big growth opportunities in the plant-based market in Europe.
Vivera Foodgroup currently comprises Culifrost (IQF frozen, plant-based meal components) and Dutch Tofu Company (tofu) and the brand Vivera (plant-based meals and meat alternatives).
With the brand Vivera, the group has a strong market position in large parts of Europe and is one of the three largest players in the region. Vivera is known primarily for meat alternatives, including its steak alternative product, which it launched in May 2018. The product has arguably proven to be a hit with consumers. In the UK alone, over 1 million items have been sold through supermarket chain Tesco. Since its introduction last year, several million items have been sold in Western-Europe. Vivera's products are available in more than 25,000 supermarkets in 25 European countries.
As an extension to its product range, Vivera recently launched a number of products such as Pulled Veggie, Shawarma Kebab and Veggie Quarter Pounder which are available at many large retailers in Europe.
“Vivera is growing at high pace, significantly above the already fast growth of the plant-based market. Our expansion is taking place throughout Europe in the major markets (UK, Germany and the UK) and other markets like Central Europe, Nordics, Benelux, Italy and Spain,” Esther Evers, Vivera Brand Manager Europe, tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “At the same time, we are making significant investments in our operational footprint to keep up with the growth of the business, resulting in duplication of production capacity, including expansion into the newest technologies.”
To further target this growing segment, Evers says the group is actively expanding innovation investments.
“Innovation has always been and is our backbone to offer the market products that outperform the competition in taste, bite and sensorial experience,” she adds.
Vivera Foodgroup notes that the interest of consumers in healthier and more sustainable food is increasing strongly in large parts of Europe. Given the rapidly developing market demand and the sale of Enkco, Vivera Foodgroup wants to invest structurally at a higher level in expanding production capacity and new products. In the short term, production capacity of Vivera's plant in the Netherlands will be considerably expanded in the third quarter of 2019.
“We are one of the first companies in the world's meat industry to say a final goodbye to meat. From now on, we will only focus on plant-based foods which are really conquering the world,” says Willem van Weede, CEO of Vivera Foodgroup. “More and more consumers are discovering that plant-based products can be just as tasty as real meat and have many benefits for personal health, environmental impact and animal welfare. As a result of the sale of our meat activities, we think we can boost even more Vivera’s rapid international growth.”
Evers tells FoodIngredientsFirst the company has identified five megatrends within the plant-based space:
Food as an ally in health. In 2017, the vegan market increased 18.3 percent, worldwide. Vegetarian is the fastest growing lifestyle movement today and is popular especially among the Millennials and younger generations.
Food as an identity. Food has become more than a health concern. It’s also a declaration of identity. Food gains social meaning. We are what we eat, and we are what we share we eat.
Good food as not processed. Along with the shocking food scandals of minor or greater resonance, local or international, that dotted the last decades, people gradually became disillusioned about food in cans and processed food in general.
Food as a political act. People are learning that every decision we make around food has deep political and societal consequences, dictating how we treat people, animals and the planet.
Natural food; local, seasonal & organic. People today favor alternative food systems such as local sourcing, small farming and producers and they pay attention to the freshness and seasonality of products.