Camden, NJ —As it continues to change its face in response to consumer demand for more healthy foods,Campbell Soup Co. is joining the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), the nation’s only trade group representing the fast-growing, plant-based foods sector. It is the first major food company to join the 20-month-old organization. In July, Campbell told investors it was leaving the Grocery Manufacturers Association because it found itself  “at odds with some of the positions” held by the GMA.

The PBFA, which launched in March 2016, advocates on behalf of its members and works to expand markets in the retail and foodservice sectors. It represents 80 plant-based food companies. GMA, meanwhile, has lobbied against labeling of GMO products. Nestle, which is also building its better-for-you portfolio, said it would also be leaving GMA at the end of the year.

Campbell has increased the amount of vegetables and whole grains in its portfolio and has accelerated innovation efforts to bring more packaged fresh and refrigerated products to the retail perimeter with brands such asBolthouse Farms, 1915 Organic and Garden Fresh Gourmet.

It also is an investor in Habit, a player in the personalized nutrition space.

Recently, Campbell launched a new line of plant-based milks under itsBolthouse Farmsbrand. Made from pea protein,Bolthouse Farmsplant protein milk is refrigerated and contains 10 grams of pea protein per 8 oz. serving and offers consumers a nutritious alternative milk that is free of common allergens such as dairy, nuts and gluten.

“We are committed to providing our consumers with food choices that meet their nutrition, well-being and lifestyle needs,” said Ed Carolan, president, Campbell Fresh. “Working together with the Plant Based Foods Association, we can advance our shared goal of bringing more plant-based foods to consumers.”

According torecent datafrom Nielsen, the plant-based foods sector has grown more than 8% in the past year while the plant-based milk category is up 3% since last year, outpacing sales of cow’s milk.

“We are thrilled to have Campbell join our membership,” said Michele Simon, executive director of The Plant Based Foods Association, in a statement. “With their leadership, the plant-based foods sector is certain to grow even faster. We look forward to a long and productive partnership.”

Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 10/30/17