Sweet Earth plant-based frozen foods Nestlé

Plant-based food brand Sweet Earth acquired by Nestlé

The purchase gives Nestle immediate entry into the dynamic and red-hot U.S. plant-based foods segment.

Nestlé USA has agreed to purchase plant-based food manufacturer Sweet Earth for an undisclosed amount.

Launched in 2011, Sweet Earth has 48 SKUs spanning frozen burritos and meals to chilled meat substitutes. Its frozen meals highlight global flavors and plant-based proteins like seitan, tofu and legumes.

"We believe the support of Nestlé will allow us to accelerate and intensify our goals and reach toward a more sustainable future," CEO Kelly Swette wrote in a blog post today.

The acquisition is in line with Nestlé's strategy to build out its portfolio of vegetarian and flexitarian choices, and diversify its offerings beyond its category leadership in meals and snacks," the company said in a press release. According to data from SPINS, the plant-based sector topped $5 billion in sales last year, with refrigerated meat alternatives experiencing almost 16 percent growth in the natural channel.

This year is shaping up to be a big one for the plant-based foods market; already this year, Maple Leaf Foods acquired Lightlife Foods in February for $140 million, and Daiya was bought by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. in July.

Sweet Earth will remain based in Moss Landing, California, and will operate independently with support from Nestlé USA's Food Division. "Nestlé wants us to continue to innovate, and so do we," Swette wrote, "so you can continue to see some exciting and innovative products down the road."

Sweet Earth won a NEXTY Award in the Best New Meat Alternative category at Natural Products Expo West 2017.

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