My name is Lauren Tolond, Head of Marketing at Upfield for almost 2 years now. With my background of biological sciences, I have gained years of experience in the food industry. For years I worked as a marketing manager in various divisions within Unilever. With my knowledge of branding, marketing and biological sciences, I like to share my vision on the future of food and the impact of branding on it.
As a plant-based company one of the biggest misconceptions about food we face is the fact that many people think there is a nutritional need for animal products in our diets. When in fact, plant-based products provide healthy levels of protein, calcium and iron. A plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds gives you the nutrition you need, whilst cutting down on unhealthy fats. Multiple studies show that eating more plants and less meat or dairy can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. It is a more healthy, nutritious and accessible way to eat, of which we wish to convince more and more consumers the coming years.
It’s a simple one really and I think one that is quite common to many of us! That we all leave the world a little better than how we found it. That includes being kinder to one another, more equality, using the world’s resources better and wiser and really protecting the planet for future generations as that’s our responsibility.
We need to break down the misconceptions around eating more plant-based foods and showcase that people from all walks of life can incorporate plant-based or vegan food into their diets. By switching to a diet that is majority plant, we will better manage our finite resources and help to reduce emissions, water usage and land usage, all of which are exploited as a result of eating foods derived from animals. Upfield therefore advocates for “A Better Plant-Based Future”, which means transforming the global food system by driving the adoption of plant-based foods and plant-based diets. We see it as our job to ensure that people can have delicious vegan options without compromising on taste.
It’s a well-documented fact that by 2050, there will be nearly 10bn people on the planet and if we continue eating the way we are today, we will not be able to sustain them. We have no other option: we need to change the way we eat. Which does not have to be difficult; anyone can choose a more environmentally conscious diet, that consists of less animal products and more plant-based products.
To get there, we do not believe in preaching, but in seducing. The way to a better food choice is to offer products that are not only more sustainable but are equal or better in every way, so that consumers do not have to compromise. We therefore offer vegan spreads and cheeses that are more ethical and climate friendly than dairy, but are also just great in taste and use in the kitchen.
Looking at us as a global company and at myself as a marketing professional, I see a responsibility to be both transparent about our impact and inspiring others on their impact. Upfield has an opportunity and a responsibility to inspire people to make food choices that are better for the planet. We do so by sharing environmental information about our products on our packaging, in our digital content and through engaging marketing.
We have set ourselves the goal to communicate the benefit of plant-based food by labelling carbon emission on 500 million of our products by 2025. This way we can help influence thousands of people every day to think about the food choices they make.
Being a marketeer, I strongly believe that brands play a pivotal role in change. Two brands who I believe have really harnessed the power of change are Redbull and Too Good To Go who have done this in very different ways.
Redbull has always known as the Maverick of brands which I like! It challenges a pretty complacent category, it boldly and deliberately chooses to act differently and isn’t scared to be quite selective in the target audience it wants to talk to, to create change.
Too Good To Go is a great European born example born out of a real passion to reduce food waste. However, they have created a business which really turns that motivation and desire into real tangible action. It’s the most practical example of driving people to change in a simple and convenient way using their mobile app. Many people want to change but they need brands like Too Good To Go to help them do that.
Being proudly South African, I would love to have been able to sit down with Nelson Mandela and discuss change. Mandela used his life to change and positively impact his people, his country, and the world. He understood that a single person can be a catalyst for change, and he certainly wasn’t afraid to be that catalyst as the cause he was fighting for was bigger than any barrier. I would love to ask his advice on how we find more catalysts just like him and make more positive change in the world.
My advice is to myself as well as to everyone else reading this is to focus on making a change yourself. Each small change leads to a bigger change. We do of course need companies to come to the party as that’s how we get real positive scale but we can do it ourselves too. We are not too small. Our individual actions do matter. We can make one small change in our day-to-day routines to have a positive effect, to be that catalyst. In a world that is highly complex, it really can be that simple. And in the words of an idol of mine Nelson Mandela “one of the most difficult things is not to change society — but to change yourself”.
I want to leave behind a better world for my future children, my nieces and nephews, my neighbour’s children, my work colleague’s children! And who else will do it if we don’t care now and act today?
At home, I started with one small action. I have switched out all dairy spreads, creams and cheese for plant based ones. They are better for my health and are proven to be better for the planet. They are just as tasty so no one even notices but I give myself a pat on the back and feel proud that I am making a positive impact. At work, I am passionate about crafting & building brands that stand for something more than just sales and profit. At Upfield, our brands are there to help consumers make these small changes which will have a big impact and working on these brands is a real privilege. I lead a team of amazing humans who teach me every day that purpose is power and why leaving a legacy you are proud of is the single biggest accomplishment you can have.
Head of Marketing at Upfield (Netherlands, France and Belgium)