It’s been a big few weeks for UK-based vegan meat company Meatless Farm.
Last month, having reported that a ‘big investor’ had withdrawn from a commitment to invest, the company hired insolvency firm Kroll. A couple of weeks ago, redundancies began, with former staff posting on social media that ‘the business had unfortunately made all the teams redundant’.
Kroll then revealed its appointment of administrators of the plant-based brand, telling us it was ‘exploring all options’ for the business.
But now it appears Meatless Farm’s freefall has found a soft landing. Today (21 June), vegan food company VFC Foods announced it is acquiring the business and retaining the brand.
An opportunity to diversify
The acquisition price was not revealed. But accounts filed with Companies House suggest Meatless Farm had not been breaking even in recent years. According to financial results for the year ended 31 December 2021, the business had an operating loss of £22.9m (€26.72m).
VFC (Vegan Fried Chick*n) Foods – which like Meatless Farm, also hails from Yorkshire, UK – is reporting Meatless Farm’s business has an annual turnover of £12m.
Founded in 2020 by Matthew Glover and Adam Lyons, VFC’s product line is made up of vegan chicken alternatives based on soy and wheat protein. The company sees the Meatless Farm acquisition as an opportunity to diversify its current portfolio.
It also marks a ‘crucial milestone’ in VFC’s growth strategy and its mission to provide more vegan products across retail and foodservice, noted the company. “We are delighted to announce this strategic acquisition, whilst being extremely mindful of the business’ challenges and the impact of the people involved,” said David Sparrow, CEO of VFC Foods.
“Meatless Farm has built strong consumer awareness, which aligns with our core values, and their exciting product portfolio enhances our existing range. By integrating both brands, we can utilise numerous synergies with valued customers and suppliers, thus driving and extending customer choice.”
Next steps for the business
In the very short-term, VFC is working hard to get Meatless Farm’s supply chain back up and running.
“Our immediate priority is to get the much-loved products back on the market,” Glover told FoodNavigator. “We are working tirelessly with valued customers and suppliers to do so as they have been out for stock for a few months now.”
As to how VFC plans to turn the business around, the co-founder suggested leveraging synergies will be an important starting point.
“VFC Foods is well positioned to sustainably grow the Meatless Farm brand, we have a team deployed to absorb the MF business within our current structure. And by integrating both brands, we can utilise numerous synergies with valued customers and suppliers, thus driving innovation and extending customer choice.”
Regrettably for Meatless Farm’s former employees, the acquisition does not overturn their redundancies, which Glover explained were already in progress before VFC made an offer.
“VFC have a team deployed to absorb the MF business within its current structure and therefore as we grow it will create opportunities. However, at this time, it has resulted in the unfortunate situation of redundancy.”