Meatless Farm talks $31m boost, M&A opportunities, and plant-based NPD: ‘The category is at a tipping point’

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image source: Meatless Farm
Image source: Meatless Farm

Related tags: Meat alternatives

Meatless Farm has closed a $31m (€26m) funding round, which Chief Growth Officer Michael Hunter says will help the brand build out its operations, expand new product development, and explore acquisition opportunities.

UK-headquartered Meatless Farm was created in 2016, with its first plant-based offerings rolling out two years later in 2018.

Since then, the meat alternative brand has expanded listings in the UK, entered Whole Foods in the US, built up a presence in APAC, and now reports a year-on-year sales increase of 180%.

Having previously closed a funding round worth $17m – including a reported seven-figure sum investment from British free-to-air television network Channel 4 – Meatless Farm has now closed a funding round worth $31m.

“The demand from investors was overwhelming. This is a testament to the brand, especially given COVID-19,” ​Chief Growth Officer Michael Hunter told FoodNavigator.

“Our fundraising strategy was first to build with existing investors whilst also recruiting new ones who share the Meatless Farm ethos. This blended approach has enabled us to create a very strong platform for the next phase of growth.”

Building out manufacturing operations

Meatless Farm currently has four offices worldwide: Leeds, Amsterdam, New York, and Singapore. The company plans to use the money on ‘further establishing’ the brand in existing markets, as well as accessing new regions.

Particular attention will be paid to its production line across the pond, revealed Hunter, where the brand plans to ‘build out’ its manufacturing operations.

“We’re in the process of developing our Canadian operations. Part of this is looking at how we can shorten the journey from seed to shelf and align even closer to our aim of creating a more sustainable food system.”

More details will be shared in due course, we were told. “It’s an exciting time for us as we move into our next phase of growth.”

‘We won’t rush our NPD to market’

Funding will also be put towards expanding Meatless Farm’s product lines – yet the push towards market will not be done in haste, the Chief Growth Officer told this publication.

“Consumer demand for plant-based options is growing exponentially. We have a very exciting NPD plan in place but importantly we won’t rush innovation to market, the category is at a tipping point and getting it right is much more important than being first if we really want to convert meat-eaters.”

As it stands, the brand’s core range focuses on mince, sausages, and burgers. While originally made with soya protein, earlier this year the brand removed soy from its burgers and sausages – which are now pea based.

Hunter revealed Meatless Farm plans to ‘broaden’ its portfolio to look at other meat equivalents.

“We want to make it easy for consumers to swap out meat and range is critical to achieving that goal.”

As Meatless Farm is now operational in Europe, the US, and Asia, it is paying close attention to regional trends and consumer preferences, in order to meet the demand of local consumers.

“Different eating cultures across the world are also playing a role in how we develop products – our core range serves many markets but there are local nuances that provide lots of opportunity for us to develop new ideas.”

M&A opportunities

Part of Meatless Farm’s expansion plan includes investigating acquisition opportunities. Brand founder Morten Toft Bech said Meatless Farm’s ambition is to ‘expand our global operations organically’ whilst also looking to participate in M&A activities ‘around the consolidation of smaller plant-based companies’.

While Chief Growth Officer Hunter did not reveal what kind of companies the brand would be targeting, he did suggest Meatless Farm will be keeping a keen eye on the market in the coming months.

“Our organic growth is very strong, and the Meatless Farm brand has built up a potent loyalty with consumers, retailers and foodservice customers.

“However, the category is evolving very quickly. This could see more M&A and collaboration across the category in 2021. We are always taking the pulse on potential growth opportunities.”

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