Innocent Drinks is a company with an excellent brand image. Its smoothies and juices are premium products, with a premium price and high social value attached.
You would imagine that its profile makes it a perfect fit to successfully launch a range of dairy-free products. And yet it announced this week that its coconut, hazelnut and almond drinks are being withdrawn.
On social media, it exhibited good humour, thanking those who bought the products.
“We really appreciate all five of you,” they said, adding: “Unfortunately, just like Shakira’s hips, our sales figures don’t lie.”
It seems that the ‘better for the planet’ approach to marketing meat-free and dairy-free food isn’t working in many cases.
Meanwhile, organic food sales are not keeping pace with increased production.
And where to now for “meat” products made from plant proteins? Overall market share fell last year in the US. Impossible Foods was launched in a blaze of publicity. With Bill Gates as a lead investor, it was the best resourced ‘fake’ meat startup of all time. And yet it has struggled.
While only a harsh critic would compare Gates’s move into food production to Elon Musk’s car-crash ownership of Twitter, there were further staff lay-offs last month, and it’s reported its plant-based ‘chicken nuggets’ have just been banned in Australia due to high levels of vitamin B5.
Gates also invested in Beyond Meat, which posted losses of €340m last year.
Time will tell
Only time will tell if the strategy of trying to replace meat products with non-meat products designed to look and taste like meat will work.
The history of this country shows that revolutions and insurrections can fail repeatedly, but then with little warning one can succeed wildly.
Perhaps people who dismiss ‘fake’ meat, or indeed lab-developed synthetic meat, as woke fads shouldn’t feel fully vindicated just yet.
This week, the International Panel on Climate Change escalated its warning that mankind must rapidly change how we live to prevent catastrophic global warming.
We have to feed the planet, and how and where we grow food will evolve pretty quickly. We shouldn’t be innocent to that.