Danish heritage brand Naturli‘ has been producing like-for-like plant-based alternatives since 1988 and has no plans to slow down any time soon. Last year, the Scandinavian pioneer opened a plant-based café in Oslo, the capital of Norway, as well as launching a new line of frozen vegan food products across the UK.
We caught up with CEO Henrik Lund to talk about strategic partnerships, plant-based going mainstream, and Denmark’s role in the movement.
What is Naturli Foods’ elevator pitch?
Naturli’ is a unique cross-category brand. We embrace mainstream consumers with 1:1 uncompromising taste and texture in dairy products, meat-free products and ice cream. Our target is to provide you with the food you consume during a day – plant-based only and without sacrificing on taste vs. conventional food.
One-stop shopping brand – what else do you need? The magic lies in covering all meals during a day with Naturli’ products – this solves a lot of problems, such as fighting climate change with low emission food, exhibiting kindness to animals and, on a more personal note, also a healthier lifestyle.
What are your best selling products and where can they be found?
We are large sellers of 100% plant-based versions of drinks, breakfast products, meat-free products, spreads etc. for sandwiches, pasta, desserts and basic cooking ingredients.
Today, we market our products in 19 markets. Not all products are available in all markets.
So, how do you decide which products to develop and for which markets?
At Naturli’ we believe that the consumers are best at telling us what they like and need. We believe in consumer democracy and for this we use our social media where we boast 350,000 followers from around the globe. We listen to the consumers when they enquire about new products or offer their comments on existing ones. We have also invited our followers to take part in taste testing to ensure that we hit the mark when launching a new product. Often also the consumers come up with names for new products. We are in close dialogue with consumers all over the world 24/7.
What are your most effective sales channels?
Our primary sales channel is grocery stores. In addition to this, an increasing share of our products is also sold to the professional segment in the food service sector.
You recently formed an unlikely partnership with Scandi Standard, Scandinavia’s largest producer of poultry. How did this collaboration come about?
At Naturli’ we have a fundamental belief in growing strong, strategic partnerships across conventional divides. This is the way forward when it comes to expanding the green way of life. This is also why we have developed a unique pea protein which we to our pleasure sell to the animal sector and competitors all over the world. From this perspective, it only comes naturally to team up with Scandi Standard who also want to offer their customers a plant-based alternative to the conventional chicken products. A powerful match.
Denmark is known as a progressive country with regards to plant-based attitudes. What more could be done in your home country?
Quite true, Denmark is at an advanced level when it comes to plant-based foods. According to the Danish Minister of Food, Denmark should be in the lead and wear the “maillot jaune”, the leader’s jersey, in terms of plant-based foods. A stand which also the population believes Denmark should take.
At Naturli’, however, we would prefer to see more action instead of mere words.
At Naturli’ we have three wishes:
1. That the politicians will take steps to develop a national action plan detailing more widespread use of plant-based foods. Not only in Denmark, but also in terms of global exports.
2. That plant-based foods will receive serious political attention. Today, Denmark is in the lead when it comes to organic products. The reason for this is that years ago there was a will to look ahead and support the organic trend from many sides. In Denmark we have the opportunity to repeat this success – and this time with plant-based foods.
3. That the politicians will support the green transition process in farming. Green produce for human consumption is in low supply. Today 80 percent of Danish farm land is used to grow animal feed. It is critical to transform the agricultural sector to generate more produce of a high standard which can be used in plant-based foods.
Having been founded back in 1988, Naturli has been on the plant-based scene longer than most. What are the biggest changes in the industry that Naturli has witnessed?
The plant-based sector is experiencing marked growth these years and the potential for plant-based foods is enormous. During the past year, investments in green food producers have tripled to around DKK 18 bn (about EUR 2.4 bn). And in about six years, the market for plant-based foods in Western Europe is expected to reach a value of about DKK 460 bn (EUR 62.2 bn) to increase to DKK 870 bn (EUR 117.6 bn) after another two years. This holds great opportunities for a first-mover like Naturli’. It also requires a considerable influx of capital to be able to continue with the same innovative power which we are exhibiting. Let alone this year, we expect to launch another 30 new products during the last two quarters.
Thanks to this growth, plant-based products are moving from being niche products to becoming mainstream products. What this also means is that as a natural consequence the consumers will want products featuring various functionalities. This is one of the reasons why we have recently marketed a brand new series of drinks with added vitamins, sugar removed, no gluten, just to mention some of the features. And this is a growing trend.
Another major shift we are witnessing is that many of the all-conventional producers of animal products are turning to plant-based production. As regards the green transition for our entire food culture this is good news.
What’s next for Naturli?
We will continue developing new and exciting plant-based foods and we will continue expanding into new export markets and increasing consumer involvement. We are on a global journey – and we see great ways of expanding the consumption of green foods.