Ecotone: “We don’t See the Trend for Plant-Based Products as a Business Opportunity. It’s in our DNA”

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Working across 7 key countries, with over 15 leading and purposeful brands that are over 80% organic, 95% vegetarian and all GMO free, France-based Ecotone is the largest international food company to fully become a B Corp.

With biodiversity as its core value, Ecotone has over 30 years of experience in changing the industrial food system, which makes it well-positioned to promote the meat and dairy alternative movement. We talked with Ecotone CEO Christophe Barnouin to find out more about this purpose-driven company.

Who is Ecotone?
Ecotone is a mission-led business committed to charting an alternative path to the dominant, industrial food model that is damaging the planet. A European leader for organic and plant-based food, Ecotone was also the first and largest international food business to be fully B Corp certified. Ecotone offers a broad portfolio of natural, organic and plant-based foods through purpose-driven brands including Allos, Clipper Teas, Bjorg, Isola Bio and Whole Earth.

Abbot Kinney's Ecotone

What is the proportion of vegan products across all brands?
Ecotone’s brands operate in expanding market segments across Europe including cereals, rice cakes, hot beverages, spreads and non-dairy drinks. Our biggest category is dairy alternatives which makes up more than 20% of our total business turnover. The company has a long-standing commitment to plant-based food. More than 80% of our product lines are vegan friendly.

Which Ecotone brands are expanding their vegan offerings?
We are continually innovating with new products that are vegan friendly. The Ecotone brands that are currently leading the way in this are Tartex, Abbot Kinneys, Whole Earth and Bjorg. A true pioneer in plant-based foods, Bjorg was the first brand to introduce dairy alternatives to the French market over 30 years ago. Whole Earth is also essentially a vegan brand, offering a wide range of plant-based nut butters, cereals and drinks that are better for people and the planet.

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What are Ecotone’s plans to benefit even more from the booming plant-based market?
Ecotone has a long-standing commitment to organic and plant-based food. We don’t see the trend for plant-based products as a business opportunity. It’s in our DNA. As a mission-led business we always try to push specifications higher and do better. Our focus currently is diversity of ingredients. The conventional food model is reliant on just nine ingredients which causes over-farming and is damaging to the planet. We want to challenge the conventional model and chart an alternative path by ensuring that two-thirds of our product portfolio will not be based on those over-consumed commodities by 2030. Most our product innovations now are vegan-led – like Alter Eco’s new vegan chocolate in the Netherlands – and that’s the direction most of our brand portfolio is going.

Are there plans, like other companies, to transform vegetarian products into vegan ones?
We have such a high proportion of vegan friendly products in our portfolio that rather than changing the recipes of our existing products, we’re innovating more with new products. For example, through our plant-based drinks brand, Bjorg, we’ve created a wide range of vegan dairy alternatives – something to suit every taste, from soya to almond, oats, spelt and even coconut.

Plant-based drinks have the advantage of being naturally lactose-free and contain unsaturated fats – helping shoppers select a more balanced product that is appealing to vegans and flexitarians.


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