Australian v2Food aims to expand plant-based meats in Europe and Asia with € 45 million increase – TechCrunch
v2Food is one of many new competitors in the field of alternative proteins, founded in Australia but now targeting Europe, Asia and beyond. It has a few key advantages over the competition, and with 45 million euros in new funding, it could soon find its way onto the eurozone’s plates.
The company has seen strong adoption in its home market, and the first goal is to be No.1 in Australia, said CEO and founder Nick Hazell, formerly of Masterfoods and Pepsico R&D. But in the meantime, they will expand their presence in Asia, where partner Burger King has launched a Whopper with their pancake, and in Europe, where minimal suspicious elements of the product come into play.
Currently, v2Food makes ground beef and plant-based patties, sausage and ready-made bolognese sauce. Obviously, they have stiff competition in those categories, which are sort of the opening game for most alternative protein companies. But v2Food is ahead of many of them in two ways.
First, v2Food products are manufactured, or at least can be manufactured, using “any standard meat production facility”. This is a big plus for scaling and a minus for cost, as economies of scale are already in play. The processes of creating and mixing plant and other man-made substances that make up alternative proteins in general are not always compatible with the existing infrastructure. It also opens the door to partnerships with existing meat companies who might have been reluctant to change the process. (Incidentally, Hazell noted that what they are aiming for is not so much to replace traditional meats as it is to develop the market in a new direction, a philosophy these companies can appreciate.)
Second, as the press release announcing the fundraiser says, “v2food products do not contain GMOs, preservatives, colors or flavors. This makes it an ideal product for the European market, where many large competitors have been unable to enter the market due to strict regulations. It is also a soft advantage to seduce in-store buyers hesitating between two plant-based options; who hasn’t on occasion opted for the one with fewer ingredients that proudly boasts of its lack of preservatives and the like? The demographic group purchasing alternative proteins is probably particularly sensitive to this consideration.
The round of funding of 45 million euros is a “B Plus”, led by the European impact fund Astanor and with the participation of Huaxing Growth Capitol Fund, Main Sequence and ABC World Asia. The money goes both to R&D and to scale up.
“This funding is an important step towards v2food’s goal of transforming the way the world produces food,” said Hazell. “It is imperative that we move quickly because these global problems require immediate solutions. “
To that end, much of it will simply go to creating enough products to meet demand. They also double R&D spending to both accelerate new products and improve existing products. And rather than importing the necessary ingredients into Australia, they are exploring the possibility of building a local manufacturing plant there. With luck and a little herbal elbow grease, the region could become a net exporter, supporting the local economy while building the resilience of v2Food and reducing costs.
Expansion in Europe is always a spark in the eye of the company (and Astanor), because even with its simplicity and non-GMO origins, it is not trivial to launch a new product on the European market. .