Bel includes plant-based in transformation strategy

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

A plant-based version of Boursin will be sold on the American market through the Amazon Fresh platform as of the end of October 2020. Pic: Bel
A plant-based version of Boursin will be sold on the American market through the Amazon Fresh platform as of the end of October 2020. Pic: Bel

Related tags: Groupe bel, Cheese, plant based

CEO of Bel Group Antoine Fievet and Cécile Béliot, executive vice-president in charge of strategy, growth levers and markets, have revealed innovation projects in a variety of markets to accelerate the group’s transformation.

Bel said it is pursuing a transformation strategy that focuses on its long-term vision of contributing to a new food model, including becoming involved in plant-based products.

The company also said it is continuing its actions to promote biodiversity and is joining the Act For Nature initiative at the international level.

Bel said in spite of the pandemic, in the first half of the year, results were up by 4.8%, driven by products such as The Laughing Cow and fruits compotes. Faced with the uncertainties of a lasting crisis, the two executives expressed the necessity to remain cautious and stay focused on the long-term vision of Bel’s model.

The company said it is taking actions in five areas: sustainable agriculture, healthy food, responsible packaging, the fight against climate change and product accessibility.

Bel said it is reinforcing its environmental commitments with an inclusive approach. In 2020, with the assistance of WWF France, it structured a biodiversity policy aggregating the commitments made by the group. The approach takes into account the entire value chain, from farm to plate.

On October 1, 2020, Bel, which had already joined Act For Nature France, joined the international Act For Nature initiative at the international level, which brings together companies, public authorities, scientists and associations to create an international collective dynamic to protect, enhance and restore biodiversity.

Béliot said, “For the past year, we have been accelerating the group’s transformation, with the conviction that a responsible and profitable growth is possible: an enlightened ‘capitalism’ that is moving from a logic of balance of power to a logic of value sharing, beyond any major stakes. This is what guides all the Group’s actions today.”

The group said it is transforming its brand portfolio by strengthening its strategy in three complementary areas: dairy, fruits and plant-based.

In 2019, 54 products were updated with nutrient-enriched recipes in markets with specific nutritional needs. It cited as an example its new Kiri recipes using only French milk and cream, water, salt and ferments, which will be produced in Sablé sur Sarthe. In the spring of 2021, a new recipe for The Laughing Cow will be launched with a similar short list of ingredients.

Babybel 5G Proteins was launched this year in several European countries. Babybel Plus, another line enriched with nutrients, will be launched at the end of 2020 in the US and Great Britain with one product containing probiotics and another enriched with vitamins.

“Our strength is our positive and accessible brands. That is why we wanted them to carry our commitments and play a driving role in innovation,”​ Béliot said.

The group also announced its intention to provide a plant-based version of each of its core brands.

In January 2021, Bel will launch The Laughing Cow Blends in the US, the UK, Canada and Germany, countries where The Laughing Cow is mainly consumed by adults and where there is potential among flexitarians. Three variants with cheese, vegetables and spices will be offered.

A plant-based version of Boursin will be sold on the American market through the Amazon Fresh platform as of the end of October 2020.

The new plant-based certified Boursin is dairy-free, 100% plant-based and suitable for vegans. Boursin Dairy-Free is available in Garlic & Herbs flavor.

Bel is developing a plant-based Mini Babybel that should be launched next year in the US and is preparing, in the coming months, the launch of a new international brand fully dedicated to plant-based products.

The group added it is aiming for 100% recyclable and/or biodegradable packaging by 2025. To date, 84% of packaging is already biodegradable or recyclable.

It said Mini Babybel is partnering with Terracycle (in Canada, the UK, Ireland and Germany) to create national packaging recycling programs. By the end of the year, the cellophane that wraps Mini Babybel will be compostable and a statement will be added on the packs in order to educate consumers.

The group said it is also strengthening its product accessibility strategy. The “Simply” Laughing Cow version was launched in July in Algeria with a recipe rich in Calcium, vitamin A and D, and at a price in line with the local economic and social context.

Fievet said, “I am convinced that we must build a food model that can have a positive impact on our entire ecosystem. All Bel employees are mobilized to open a new path with our partners for a more sustainable and responsible future of food.”

Related topics: Manufacturers, Cheese, Sustainability

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