Meat substitute maker THIS wins £11m to help sales sizzle

Venture capitalists have fed millions of pounds into a British maker of meat-free alternatives to bacon and sausages amid a surge in sales.

Funds including BGF, one of the most active investors in the UK, and Lever VC, which specialises in backing meat substitutes, have invested £11m in This, which sells plant-based pork and chicken to all of the big supermarkets.

The start-up generated sales of £13m in the year to April, a more than six-fold increase on the previous year.

Co-founder Andy Shovel said initially it had seen the most interest from “Gen Z”, those born after 1997. However, he said, over the past year an older demographic had also started to buy its plant-based meat products, which include chicken nuggets, bacon lardons and sticky barbecue skewers.

He said: “Now there’s mainstream customers. You’ve got about 30m people in the UK who identify as ‘meat reducers’ and those are the people we’re seeing more and more of now buying our products.”

The funding will be used by This to set up a new research and development centre in London and expand its manufacturing facilities. It comes as supermarkets report rising sales of plant-based alternatives.

Tesco said sales of its Plant Chef vegan burgers were up 500pc year on year in January.

Mr Shovel said customers were no longer just looking for vegan products that were healthy, but also more indulgent. There has been a rise in “vegan fast food” in recent years, with giants such as McDonald’s and KFC trialling their own vegan alternatives.

”People don’t want just virtuous options,” Mr Shovel said. “Two years ago when we launched, everything had to be healthy, but not any more and that’s because it’s being normalised.”

He said there were a flurry of vegan products that had yet to be launched. “Lots of people have gone for the low hanging fruit, the burgers and the sausages, but there are still so many animal-based products which haven’t been effectively replaced.”

Five Seasons Ventures
nicolas@fiveseasons.vc
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