Meatless Farm: We make fresh plant-based food using pea and other vegetable protein
Please introduce yourself and your startup Meatless Farm to our readers!
I am Morten Toft Bech, a Danish entrepreneur and founder of Meatless Farm. We make fresh plant-based food using pea and other vegetable protein to replicate the familiar experience of meat. The range goes beyond burgers with its fresh mince being the top seller. Our quest is to build a new sustainable global food system by nurturing the natural planet and democratising plant-based food.
How did you get the idea of Meatless Farm?
My wife and me have been frustrated with the choices for making everyday family favourites that worked for her and the rest of the family. So I researched and developed the product over two years, first developing the company’s original fresh plant-based mince. The company has been a labour of love, supported by group of private investors before securing its first UK listing with Sainsbury’s in 2018.
Why did you decide to start with Meatless Farm?
One of the single biggest ways we can create a positive impact on our planet is to reduce our intensively farmed meat consumption. For many meat eaters there is a perception that going meatless is a sacrifice, and traditional meat-free alternatives have had a reputation as being tasteless. We are changing all of that and want to make plant-based food appealing and compromise-free. This is essential to changing the way we eat.
What is the vision behind Meatless Farm?
On average our products use more than 90% less land and 70-80% less waterthan meat and contribute to biodiversity. In 2018, we launched the original fresh mince and made it to one of the UK’s fastest growing plant-based brands and available in over 20 countries with major retail and foodservice partners. We want to enable consumers and chefs to make the dishes they love meatless without compromise.
How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?
The main challenge was how do we deliver the same taste and texture of meat – we know people will only make the change if it feels like a swap without sacrifice. This meant we spent a huge amount of time blending, researching, experimenting and trialling different recipes and ingredients to provide strong taste, texture and nutritional credentials with the added benefits of being much kinder to the planet than most meat products. There have also been challenges sourcing the right ingredients in a sustainable way, we have overcome this by building our own production facilities.
Who is your target audience?
More people are opting for plant-based alternatives, we know from researches (Forsa, proveg, POLARIS) that 63% of German consumers are increasing the amount of plant-based food they shop since 2015. It’s not about polarising ‘vegans’ and ‘meat-eaters’, it’s about balance and finding ways that people can work together to reduce their meat consumption, positively impacting their health and the planet.
The rise of plant-based eating is not a fad, it’s here to stay and we are seeing increasing global demand YOY and record investment in the sector.
What is the USP of your startup?
The majority of our products are fresh and do not contain soy (and where they do it is certified as sustainable by the RTRS, Responsible Table, Responsible Soy), and is instead made with pea and other vegetable protein to replicate the familiar experience of meat. We are vegan friendly vs. many other competitors such as Quorn still using animal products.
Our challenge is to democratize plant-based meat alternatives by helping people to make the everyday dishes they are familiar with or buy what they enjoy in restaurants. This means going beyond burgers. We’re not telling everyone to cut out meat entirely and we’re certainly not worthy.
Can you describe your typical workday?
Actually, every day is different and things usually turn out different to what you have planned and expected. But that is also the exciting part about founding a company. Because of Covid, we needed to overcome unexpected challenges with not being able to visit the different territories the moment we globally expanded. In addition, I am currently building a great senior team with Jesper Hojer and Erwin Meijer, both formerly of Lidl, which is very exciting and key for. Of course, it’s also important to stick to our entrepreneurial spirit as a business.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Meatless Farm in five years?
We are investing hugely in new product development, marketing and international distribution and like any new business we have a 5-year plan to deliver profitable growth off the back of this investment. Central to our investment strategy is building a robust supply chain that improves quality and a more sustainable end product.
What 3 tips would you give to founders?
Keep innovating to drive growth and stay relevant; for us innovation is at the heart of the category and taste will always be the main motivator for people sticking with change
Make sure you have a strong purpose as a brand and stick with what you believe in
Make time to understand what your consumers want and need
Thank you Morten Toft Bech for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.