Nestlé – the world’s largest food and beverage company – has launched Wunda, a new pea-based milk alternative. Although arriving late to the plant-based milk segment, Nestlé looks set to take on the major players in the rapidly growing sector, with Wunda selling out quickly on its limited-edition launch.
Nestlé has been ramping up its plant-based operations across the globe, but with a focus mainly on alt meats. Last year the company launched a new research and development accelerator to work on the efficiency of vegetable milk development, and now Wunda will enter the market in France, the Netherlands and Portugal in the coming weeks, with a rollout in other European markets soon to follow.
Although Nestlé has released dairy alternative beverages before – for example its Nesfit drink, and Ninho Forti+, an oat- and pea-based beverage, both in Brazil – the launch of Wunda represents a move into the competitive alt milk segment and the food and beverage giant is looking to directly challenge leading brands such as Oatly and Danone’s Alpro.
The timing of the launch is noteworthy, as market leader Oatly pursues its IPO which could reportedly raise up to $10 billion. The dairy alternatives market is projected to reach $40.6 billion by 2026, and Nestlé itself said that sales of plant-based dairy alternatives had seen double-digit growth reaching more than $109.41 million last year. It remains to be seen, however, how much impact the Swiss conglomerate can make in the segment, with many consumers harbouring concerns regarding the company’s catalogue of ethical controversies.
“Plant-based in food and drinks is really on the rise and I think it’s very structural. I’ve been in the business for many years and I’ve never seen a category growing so fast or so strong,” Cédric Boehm, Head of Dairy for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa at Nestlé told the Financial Times. “We wouldn’t go [into this market] if we didn’t believe that we were in a position to win,” he added.