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UK-based alt-protein brand VFC Foods hit a major milestone this week when it announced it had launched across the US via the foodservice industry. The company’s vegan fried chick*n product will be available at participating restaurants.
VFC (short for Vegan Fried Chick*n) was co-founded by UK businessman Matthew Glover, who along with his wife is best known as the founder of the Veganuary concept. Glover and chef/restauranteur Adam Lyons officially launched the VFC brand in December of 2020 in the UK through various restaurant and retail channels.
An ethical mission
Alt-protein companies take various angles in terms of their mission statements and how they communicate their offerings to customers. Some tout the health benefits of vegan eating. For others it’s taste. Still others highlight the environmental necessity of lessening our dependence on animals.
While VFC mentions things like taste and health benefits, the company is largely focused on the ethical issues around traditional meat production, particularly the conditions for animals living on factory farms. “Supermarkets do not show images of the farms they source chickens from, nor do the chicken restaurants or food brands using chicken meat. It makes it very easy for people to forget how bad life is for birds on farms,” Glover told Green Queen earlier this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, surfaced some of the issues around traditional meat production that had previously not really seen the light of day. That in part can help explain the uptick in demand for plant-based meat over the last year and a half — especially in the US.
Glover added that “if we want to achieve widespread plant-based meat adoption on an institutional level, making the ethical motivation to end factory farming and animal slaughter the most important feature of our marketing is likely to be a much more powerful tool.”
Don’t call it ‘plant-based’
It’s for those ethical reasons the company has also banned the use of the term “plant-based” to describe its products, opting instead for “vegan” as it highlights the animal-free aspect of the products.
So far the company’s message is resonating. VFC raised $3.4 million in seed funding this year in addition to expanding across more retail and foodservice outlets in the UK and launching markets in Spain.
For the US expansion, VFC will offer restaurants a few different vegan chicken options: Chick*n Fillets, Chick*n Bites for dipping, and Popcorn Chick*n. All products are available in bulk at 22 pounds per box. VFC says all the prodcuts are high in protein and have “absolutely no sacrifice of flavor.”
The company’s products are made from wheat protein and southern fried in a corn flake coating to mimic the texture of traditional fried chicken.
Glover noted in today’s press announcement that VFC has seen demand from over 50 countries so far, and that the company is thrilled to be entering the US.
“The US gave the world KFC, and we’re keen to return the favor with VFC – an alternative which is kinder to animals and our planet,” he said.
Lead image courtesy of VFC.