Investors Condemn Whole Foods for Ignoring Vegan Shift

A coalition of 57 investors who manage $2.4 trillion in assets continues to push food companies to abandon the risky practice of raising animals for food.

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Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return Initiative (FAIRR)—a group of 57 influential investors—released this month a report entitled “Plant-based Profits: Investment Risks & Opportunities in Sustainable Food Systems.” In the report, FAIRR outlined the steps major companies have taken to address the mounting global problem of remaining reliant on animal-based protein. The coalition sent a demand letter to 16 companies—including Heinz, Walmart, Costco, Nestlé, Tesco, and Whole Foods Market—in September to inquire how they will capitalize on the growing plant-based food industry and mitigate the risks associated with supporting the destructive animal-agriculture industry. In its report, the investor coalition—which collectively manages $2.4 trillion—revealed that of the 16 companies it contacted, only Whole Foods failed to respond. “From meatpackers to supermarket stackers,” FAIRR founder Jeremy Coller said, “the global food sector is rapidly taking notice of plant-based alternatives to animal-protein products, and that is driving eight-percent annual growth in the alternative proteins market.” Since last year, FAIRR has worked with several of the companies it named in the initial demand letter to diversify their portfolios to shift away from animal agriculture. Nestlé acquired plant-based meat company Sweet Earth Foods in September, while Tesco leveraged the shift by partnering with vegan chef Derek Sarno to release the Wicked Kitchen plant-based meal line earlier this year. FAIRR investment engagement manager Rosie Wardle said that “business as usual is not an option” for companies that refuse to position themselves away from the unsustainable practice of raising animals for food.