UK’s Meatless Farm Makes Team Redundant As It Prepares For Bankruptcy
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Meatless Farm, the UK-based plant-based meat company founded in 2016 by Danish entrepreneur Morten Toft Bech, may be facing bankruptcy after being unable to secure additional funding.
As first reported by The Grocer today, a notice of intention to appoint administrators was filed last Friday and all employees at the company’s Leeds headquarters were made redundant.
As recently as two weeks ago, the company warned shareholders it was facing millions in losses and needed to find a buyer to stave off administration. The company has raised over £40 million in funding to date, with the latest round closed in 2021 via crowdfunding.
While the company has not made an official announcement, the Meatless Farm website is no longer operational and the brand’s products can no longer be found in supermarkets and other former retail partners. The company’s last Instagram post was from over a week ago and the last LinkedIn post dates from almost two weeks prior.
Just over a month ago, the company announced the launch of four new products, which it described as “the UK’s first branded plant-based meat-filled pasta” and debuted “the UK’s first Automated Plant Machine (APM)”, a vending machine dispensing free plant-based foods, as part of the Veganuary 2023 campaign in January.
The company’s commercial director Tim Offer announced he was looking for a new role over the weekend in a social media post, writing: “Sadly my time at Meatless Farm has come to an end. After a fantastic 10 months leading a talented and highly engaged sales team the business has unfortunately made all the teams redundant. I learnt a huge amount in a short space of time and have absolutely loved the people and the brand. I am now actively looking for new opportunities as #SalesDirector, #commercialdirector , #headofsales in #FMCG.”
Meatless Farm’s plant-based range, made primarily from pea protein (like its US counterpart Beyond Meat) and rice protein, included mince, burger patties, Chipolata sausages, steaks, chicken breasts, meatballs and a range of ready meals. The brand’s products could be found at various UK supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and the Co-op. In the US, the company inked a distribution deal with over 600 Whole Foods stores.
In addition, the company had a dedicated foodservice offering for restaurant partners and famously secured a nationwide placement on the menus of UK pub chain Wetherspoons’ 900 locations in 2019.
In a March 2023 interview with Business Leader, Toft Bech said that Meatless Farms’ 2022 sales were up 30% year on year and the company was hoping to close a £35 million funding round. When asked whether the vegan bubble was going to burst, he replied: “t is clear that the plant-based movement is here to stay. Over the last year Meatless farm has seen double-digit growth thanks to greater innovation and consumer demand despite the ongoing challenges posed by both the cost-of-living crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.”
Andy Shovel, co-CEO and co-founder at fellow British vegan meat brand THIS commented on the news in a statement via email: “It goes without saying that our thoughts as a team, go out to everyone who works at – or with, Meatless Farm. It must be a massively stressful time. It’s also a symptom of a category which is consolidating and reacting to consumers’ need for brands which really signpost quality, and very little departure experientially, from eating animal-based food. This rationalisation is very typical of high-growth and emerging categories, for instance craft beer and smoothies saw a similar process.”
This is a developing story.