[marketeer 141] Mick van Ettinger (ex Unilever) on The LiveKindly Collective

For the 140 interviews with previous high-flyers in this series, scroll to the links below.

Founded in March 2020, The LiveKindly Collective food company aims to grow into one of the world’s largest multinationals in the plant-based sector, accelerate the vegan movement and make plant-based consumption part of everyone’s diet. They do this, among other things, by adding vegetable brands to the collective and successfully launching them in various countries. Fry Family Food Co., LikeMeat and Oumph! already added to the portfolio. In addition, The LiveKindly Collective works closely with seed growers, producers and distributors, making it the only party in the plant-based food sector to own the entire production value chain. Investments are also being made in the infrastructure to enable traditional meat production facilities to be produced from a vegetable perspective.

Please introduce yourself.
‘I’m Mick van Ettinger, The LiveKindly Collective’s Chief Marketing Officer. This is where I started working immediately during the launch in March this year. Before that, I worked for 27 years at Unilever, where I held various positions, including General Management, Sales and Marketing. Especially in my last 2 positions, responsible for Impuls Ice Cream and then for Tea worldwide, the value of a brand portfolio became very clear to me. With a wide portfolio of brands you can reach many more people. This insight now naturally helps me in my current position at The LiveKindly Collective. ‘

What do you have with marketing?
‘I studied Economics in Rotterdam and graduated in Marketing. Marketing is something that has always attracted me enormously because it is very concrete and everyday. With consumer goods you are concerned with what motivates and inspires your target group on a daily basis and you translate that into marketing activities. Marketing has therefore always been my passion, also during positions as General Manager. ‘

How did you get to The LiveKindly Collective?
‘I know Kees Kruythoff, our CEO, very well from my time at Unilever. We started there on the same day and have worked together regularly ever since. When he decided to set up The LiveKindly Collective he called me and told me about his plan to change the world with this plant-based company and immediately asked if I wanted to be responsible for Marketing. I had to squeeze my arm 10 times because it seemed too good to be true. I had been thinking about working for a smaller company with like-minded people and the ambition to contribute to the world for some time. This – combined with marketing – made me say yes immediately. I think it’s super cool to be part of The LiveKindly Collective and the vegan movement because with every step we take, we are doing something very good for the planet, animals and our health. ‘

What is the idea of ​​this brand? And your goal?
‘Our mission is to change the diet of people all over the world and make plant-based eating the norm. We are very ambitious about this, but “the house is now on fire”, in other words: something has to change now. And that change must therefore take place bigger, faster and more intensively. This is what we are committed to in collaboration with other organizations, governments and education. Because only together can we make the transition a success. We are aiming for a vegetable industry of 400-500 billion dollars to emerge by 2040. ‘

How is business?
‘Very well! We already have four brands, The Fry Family Food Company, LikeMeat, Oumph! and LiveKindly in our portfolio, raised several rounds of funding to achieve our goals and accelerate the transformation, set up close partnerships with seed growers, producers, distributors and invest in the infrastructure to allow traditional meat production facilities to produce vegetable. We see that the growth that we make as a collective is much faster than the growth of individual companies. Worldwide, people are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their diet and that they want to change this, only they need help with that. Eating patterns are difficult to change. But if we all, the entire industry and other stakeholders, respond well to people’s challenges with the right inspiration and the right understanding, then we can create a whole new food industry. In our view, there is no question of competition. We only have one competitor and that is the traditional meat industry. ‘

What did you do on World Vegan Day last November 1?
‘World Vegan Day is a good example of an initiative that supports the vegan movement by creating awareness among consumers. The LiveKindly Collectief and all brands from our portfolio have therefore given broad attention to this; on social media but also by sharing recipes as inspiration, for example. Veganuary, with the goal of getting consumers to eat plant-based all of January, is the next moment that will help us reach our goal. Not just our organization and our portfolio brands boost the movement, but also supermarkets, other organizations and famous people are committed to it. That is nice to see. ‘

Many vegan colleagues price too high, such as the vegan smoked sausage from Hema, which is almost twice as expensive as the regular one. Is this smart marketing?
‘No, this is purely the result of how the traditional meat industry works. It has to do with two things:
1) through scaling up, the prices of plant products will have to be sharpened and more competitive, and
2) the price of mass-produced meat is actually much too low. The entire industry has gone through such a race to the bottom, everything has to be cheaper, cheaper, cheaper. The industry is now almost creaking. Offering meat is actually not possible for the price at which this is currently happening. ‘

Do you still notice the pandemic?
While it is absolutely terrible what is happening now, it is also an example of the broken food chain. Whether this is the case with the corona virus is still unclear, but it is known that 66% of new diseases are related to animals. Because we eat their meat en masse worldwide, animal diseases spread to humans. This has nothing to do with our diet. So the question is: how long do we want to continue with this? We can wait for the next disease to emerge or change. ‘

text: Peter van Woensel Kooy

* For more information check this site
* photo above: impression of Blaze Pizza’s vegan menu on
* For the 140 interviews with previous high-flyers from this series, scroll to the links below.

CMO Mick van Ettinger from The LiveKindly Collective

Previous high flyers from this series
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137. [interview Marketeer 137] Mark de Lange, CEO and founder of Ace & Tate
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