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All G Foods Merges with Fenn Foods to Form The Aussie Plant Based Co

In response to evolving consumer interests and the changing landscape of venture capital investments, two local plant-based meat brands have joined forces in a merger. All G Foods has spun off its Love Buds brand to collaborate with vEEF by Fenn Foods, giving rise to a newly merged entity, The Aussie Plant Based Co.

Both brands, while having their unique offerings, cater to the growing demand for meat alternatives. They distribute their products through Woolworths. Love Buds specializes in plant-based mince, burgers, sausages, arancini, and chicken nuggets. On the other hand, vEEF offers a frozen range that includes imitation pulled pork, beef, brisket, steak, chicken pieces, burgers, schnitzels, and bacon bits.

All G Foods, founded by serial entrepreneur Jan Pacas, has a track record that includes successful ventures like the ASX-listed pet care marketplace Mad Paws and HR software venture Flare. In 2021, this Sydney-based alternative proteins startup secured A$16 million in a Seed round, with support from backers like the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, Ellerston Capital, and Andrews Meats CEO Peter Andrews. In early 2022, Woolies VC fund, W23, injected “a further multi-million injection of capital” into All G Foods. Another $25 million followed in August 2022 from UK agtech investor Agronomics, as the company shifted its focus towards creating fermented “cow-free dairy” alternatives. However, no further announcements regarding this development materialized.

Fenn Foods, founded by Queensland chef Alejandro Cancino, gained recognition with a $3 million funding round in early 2022 to support its expansion efforts.

As a result of the merger, Jan Pacas will take on the role of chair at The Aussie Plant Based Co, while Alejandro Cancino will assume the position of CEO. Bryan Zekulich, a partner at Fenn Foods investor Bombora, and angel investor Rob Lederer, from the founding family of smallgoods manufacturer Primo, have joined the board.

Jan Pacas expressed that All G Foods will now shift its focus to the development of alternative dairy products. He stated, “The Aussie Plant Based Co aspires to lead the Australian industry with the broadest route to market, an enticing range of taste-first products, and our exceptional team. This strategic move will allow All G Foods to focus solely on being Australia’s leading biotech specializing in precision fermentation.”

Alejandro Cancino highlighted the shared commitment to sustainable proteins, stating, “By combining our strengths, we can accelerate the adoption of plant-based alternatives and contribute to a greener planet and more ethical sources of protein.”

This merger represents part of a broader trend of consolidation in the plant-based meat sector, driven by a decline in funding and demand at a time when supply is increasing. In the past five years, the plant-based meat market experienced significant growth, with numerous startups and investors seeking to emulate the success of Silicon Valley tech ventures like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. While supermarket shelves are now filled with alternative meat products from various companies, sales have fallen by about a third in the past year in both Australia and the US. Nevertheless, the global plant-based meat market is projected to achieve a 25% annual growth rate between 2022 and 2030, reaching a value of US$4.4 billion in 2022.

The sector’s peak was in 2021 when Ben Pasternak, a teenage Australian, secured $65 million in a series B funding round for his New York startup, Nuggs, known for its “simulated” chicken nuggets. V2food, a market leader, launched in 2019 as a joint venture between Jack Cowin, a billionaire from Hungry Jacks, and CSIRO. It raised a staggering total of $185 million but shifted its strategy earlier this year, canceling its factory plans.

Other players in the industry, like Proform Foods, backed by Andrew Forrest, and Woolworths-backed Harvest B, continue to pursue alternative meat products, with the latter opening a factory in Sydney late last year.

The Aussie Plant Based Co now boasts an extensive distribution network with 6,000 distribution points across Australia and a manufacturing hub on the Sunshine Coast. The company also has ambitions to expand into Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

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