v2Food is one of many new entrants in the alternative protein space, founded in Australia but now looking to Europe, Asia and beyond. It has some key advantages over the competition, and with € 45 million in new funding, it may soon be hitting plates in the Eurozone.
The company has had strong acceptance in its local market, and the first goal is to be number one 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 its burger, and in Europe, where the least suspicious elements of the product come into play.
Currently v2Food makes plant-based ground beef and patties, sausage, and a ready-made Bolognese sauce. They obviously have stiff competition in those categories, which are kind of the starting game for most alternative protein companies. But v2Food has an advantage over many of them in two ways.
First, v2Food products are made, or at least can be made, using “any standard meat production facility”. That’s a huge advantage for scale and a disadvantage for cost, as economies of scale are already at stake. The processes for creating and mixing the plant-derived and other man-made substances that make up alternative proteins generally do not always fit within the existing infrastructure. This also opens the door to partnerships with existing meat companies that may have been reluctant to have to change processes. (By the way, Hazell pointed out that they are not looking so much to replace traditional meats as to grow the market in a new direction, a philosophy those companies can appreciate.)
Second, as the press release announcing the fundraiser says, “v2food products do not contain GMOs, preservatives, colorings or flavorings. This makes it an ideal product for the European market, where many large competitors have not been able to enter the market due to strict regulation ”. It’s also a soft advantage for winning over store shoppers who waver between two plant-based options; Who has not ever finished for the one that has fewer ingredients and that proudly touts its lack of preservatives and such? The alternative protein buying demographic is likely to be especially sensitive to this consideration.
The 45 million euro round is a “B Plus”, led by the European impact fund Astanor and with the participation of Huaxing Growth Capitol Fund, Main sequenceand ABC World Asia. The money goes to both R&D and expansion.
“This funding is an important step toward v2food’s goal of transforming the way the world produces food,” Hazell said. “It is imperative that we escalate quickly because these global problems need immediate solutions.”
To that end, a large part will simply go to creating enough product to meet demand. They are also doubling spending on R&D to accelerate new products and improve existing ones. And instead of importing the necessary ingredients to Australia, they are exploring the possibility of building a local manufacturing plant there. With luck and a little plant-based effort, the region could become a net exporter, propping up the local economy, as well as strengthening v2Food’s resilience and reducing costs.
The European expansion is still a flash in the eyes of the company (and Astanor), as even with its simplicity and non-GMO origins, it is not trivial to launch a new product on the European market.