Earth’s Own creates a grant to change how we eat

The plant-based beverage brand is giving funding and promotion to organizations that can help its own mission of saving the planet.

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With its new “plant grant,” alternative beverage producer Earth’s Own is looking to have a bigger impact on climate change by funding other projects and organizations that encourage people to move to plant-based diets.

The call for “Plant Project” grant applications came Monday, and up to $25,000 in funds are available to any organization working on original, feasible, unique projects linked to the brand’s own ethos of getting people to eat more plants. Earth’s Own, known for its own plant-based beverages and dairy alternatives, will also provide promotional support and products to selected projects, in addition to the cash.

“If you’re motivated to make a difference to our planet by inspiring Canadians to choose plants, we want to hear from you,” says Brittany Hull, director of marketing at Earth’s Own.

The positive environmental impact of plant-based diets has been a cornerstone of Earth’s Own’s brand positioning, but Hull says the brand wanted to have a bigger conversation about creating massive plant-based adoption to combat climate change.

“There are small, but impactful ideas that need to get off the ground,” Hull says. “It’s more than cutting a cheque, which is easy. It’s about volunteer time, resources and experience to drive programs that would not normally see the light of day.”

She adds that the brand has been giving away time and money for years to the likes of community gardens and school programs, but wanted to solicit feedback about where it could have the greatest impact.

There is an associated campaign that launched Monday on Earth’s Own website and social channels with paid amplification, an influencer network, and bolstered by advocate and Vancouver-based foodie Erin Ireland, who will serve as the “Plant Project” ambassador, helping to encourage entries and help select grant recipients. The campaign also features targeted media relations and direct outreach to related non-profits to encourage applications.

Promotion for the “Plant Project” is exclusively digital, but there is some messaging on Earth’s Own’s packaging, reinforcing the brand’s existing positioning surrounding the environmental impact of plant-based eating and calling for a plant-based revolution.

It appears consumers are heeding the call.

Hull says the alternative beverage category has done “extremely well” during the pandemic. Despite 70% of its offerings being housed in the refrigerated section, soy, almond and cashew beverages can last far longer than traditional milk. Hull says consumers have loaded up on its more shelf-stable products, but have also shown themselves to be more willing to experiment with different products and flavours during the pandemic.

“We have seen a massive rise in the end of March, steadying a little bit but still bigger than pre-COVID,” Hull says. She adds that it’s trying to keep pace with demand, largely spurred by the under 35 set. Earth’s Own has had a lot of conversations about whether this shift will have staying power, and Hull says it’s partially dependent on how long people are confined to their homes.

“With demand this high, we have to continue to put our voice out there,” Hull says, saying its audience is at home and interacting more with its social channels like YouTube. She says the brand increased its share of voice to capitalize on demand across the category, which has had a positive impact on market share.

The campaign for the “Plant Project” was all done internally, as Earth’s Own’s digital team was brought in house 18 months ago to bring it closer to the strategy work being done by its own brand team. Craft Public Relations worked on this campaign with Earth’s Own as its PR AOR.

Applications can be submitted online before July 31 and Plant Project grant recipients will be announced in September. When grant recipients are announced, Earth’s Own will continue with the digital and social campaign, putting the spotlight on grant recipients throughout the rest of the year.