Premier Foods bets on Facon in plant-based push


remier Foods, maker of store-cupboard staples from Mr Kipling cakes to Bisto gravy, is on a mission to push into the plant-based sector as it pursues an ESG-led strategy.

Announcing plans ahead of the opening of COP26, the FTSE 250 firm said it plans to triple its animal product-free sales to £250 million by 2030.

A series of new products will be released to help reach the target, the company said, starting in the coming months with the launch of a Batchelor’s meat-free meal pot containing the fake bacon, “facon”.

The company also revealed aims to to reach net zero for direct emissions by 2040, and to have a gender-balanced board by 2030.

It is the latest in a series of Gen Z-pleasing moves by the firm, which recently announced it is embracing hybrid working for the long haul.

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The company told its 800 office-based staff that while its St Albans headquarters will remain open, “work is a verb, not a place” and the site will never be “somewhere colleagues have to be for the sake of showing their face”.

CEO Alex Whitehouse said: “It is now time to push ourselves harder; harder for the health of our consumers, and harder for the health of our planet.”

Jefferies’ Martin Deboo said Premier’s introduction of “ambitious and comprehensive” ESG targets is another example of the company’s “freedom to focus on running and improving” the business after several years of “almost continuous constraints and crisis”.

The news came alongside a swathe of other corporates’ sustainability-focused announcements released to coincide with COP26.

John Lewis announced it has signed a new £420m five-year revolving credit facility with rates linked to meeting environmental targets.

The partnership has already said it is aiming to reach net zero emissions by 2035, and has pledged to reduce Waitrose food waste by 50% from 2018 levels by 2030.

Meat producers also told investors today that they are focusing on sustainability.

High-end sausages maker Cranswick said it has achieved a top carbon neutral badge for 14 of its manufacturing sites, and is now using deforestation-free soya.

A recent report from European political foundation Heinrich Böll Stiftung and Friends of the Earth found that 20 livestock companies were responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than either Germany, Britain or France.