In a bid to capitalise on growing demand for vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian foods, two of Australia's leading plant-based meat brands LOVE BUDS and vEEF will merge under a new company called The Aussie Plant Based Co.
LOVE BUDS was the first range launched by Sydney-based All G Foods, which was set up in late 2020 by Mad Paws (ASX: MPA) co-founder Jan Pacas and has attracted investment from domestic and global investors including the Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEFC), Woolworths Group (ASX: WOW) and Singapore's Triple Star Capital.
VEEF is the signature product of Sunshine Coast-based Fenn Foods, co-founded by award-winning chef Alejandro Cancino and named after the word 'Fënn' which means 'planting seeds' in the native Mapudungun language of Chile and Argentina.
The Aussie Plant Based Co was formed as a result of a merger between All G's plant-based division and Fenn Foods, and will function as a separate entity that gives both brands access to an extensive network of 6,000 distribution points across the country and a well-established manufacturing hub situated on the Sunshine Coast.
The two companies claim this will position The Aussie Plant Based Co to effectively cater to the diverse needs of customers and consumers throughout Australia, with ambitions to expand into the Asian and Middle Eastern markets.
"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," says Pacas, who will chair the new entity.
"This strategic move will allow All G Foods to focus solely on being Australia’s leading biotech specialising in precision fermentation."
Cancino will lead The Aussie Plant Based Co as its CEO, and claims the collaboration is a testament to the companies' shared commitment to creating a sustainable, healthier and tastier future for Australians.
"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," he says.
The Aussie Plant Based Co board will also comprise former Primo executive Rob Lederer, who is an investor in All G Foods, and Bryan Zekulich, a partner at the investment firm Bombora.
Pacas tells Business News Australia negotiations for the merger started in late June after he was approached by Bombora, which happens to be both a shareholder in Fenn Foods and Mad Paws.
"I knew Alejandro before, and there is a high level of trust and mutual passion," he says.
He explains that All G has both a biotech arm that is developing nature-identical dairy through precision fermentation, as well as the plant-based meat line.
"We always knew that if we could double revenue, we could grow a lot faster," he says, adding there is a natural fit in the merger as LOVE BUDS is predominantly in the foodservice space and vEEF is mostly a retail-oriented brand. "It makes perfect sense."
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