Kees Kruythoff, former President of North America of Unilever and Current Chairman and CEO of The LIVEKINDLY Collective, speaks with Plantbased Business Consultant Elysabeth Alfano on The Plantbased Business Hour to discuss:
- the LIVEKINDLY Collective vision,
- how they create an efficient plant-based business model,
- the inefficiency of chicken and the immediate need to replace it,
- how a young industry can create a total systems change,
- the growth potential of the market, if $290B by 2035 is a reality and what it will take to get there,
- if a cell-based or plant-based system will be the end driver for change,
- the LIVEKINDLY brands entering the U.S. and China.
- Is plant-based no longer enough? How to distinguish yourself in the plant-based category,
- if large meat and dairy companies can make meaningful change if they aren’t mission-aligned,
- and more!
Elysabeth Alfano: I have with me the former North American president of Unilever. He jumped ship to go plant-based. He’s now the CEO and chairman of The LIVEKINDLY Collective. I want to bring in Kees Kruythoff. Kees, thanks for joining me.
So I have a quote from you and I’m hoping you can elaborate a little bit. “What you need to do in a young industry is create total systems change.” What do you mean?
Kees Kruthoff: You know if you look at the current industry and the food industry, it has been created over the last hundreds of years and it is totally optimized in efficiency in what has been created. And that is all the elements in there, whether that’s subsidies, or whether it’s the totality of the customer, or the supply chain. And so that system is a hugely efficient, optimized system.
To be able to get towards a total next system, you need to disrupt the old system and then put a better system in place. And that is hard work because you know in the beginning you have dis-economies of scale. You need to really get the cost in there to be able to invest, to build capacity and capability, to invest in terms of awareness and trial and repeat consumers. And so the total system has to shift and therefore it’s important to be able to, with a force, shift the total system. That is why we are so happy. The global players and the power players are in there and we see ourselves as a global power player.
As a total, you then really start to shift all the way upstream. So, farmers start to understand that their dairy farm starts to become unsustainable and there’s a better alternative for that. So that is basically all the way upstream to the farmers, but also all the way downstream to where customers at Target and Walmart understand that this is an attractive market…that this has the opportunity to be able to really serve their shoppers better and that there is ultimately a better economic system for it. And that is when you really get the acceleration of the total system shift.
Elysabeth: Yes, I’ll even take that one step further. I’ll say that you need it upstream even further. So, if you’re talking about growing more vegetables so that you can have quality soil and not monocropping, then you’re talking about different machinery because you’re no longer just picking corn, corn, corn. You’re picking corn, eggplant, potatoes, so now you need different machinery and before you can do that you need a different banking system. You need support from the banking system to say, “Okay we’re going to go with organics.” Usually they want to see chemicals so that they can get a return on their investment and be assured that the crop is going to exist, etc. So, from the very beginning it is a complete overhaul of absolutely everything all the way down to the end.
Now you can be a part of the conversation. The Plantbased Business Hour airs LIVE on LinkedIn every Tuesday at 1p PT on Elysabeth Alfano’s LinkedIn Page: here. Tune in to ask the most influential leaders in the plant-based business arena your questions. To make sure you never miss an episode, vegconomist will be also be featuring The Plantbased Business Hour interviews every Wednesday. Stay tuned right here for more. To learn more about The Plantbased Business Hour, click here. Follow Elysabeth on LinkedIn here and PBH here.
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