UK based vegan fried chick*n startup VFC Foods Ltd, launched by Veganuary founder Matthew Glover just 13 months ago, has secured £7.5m ($10.3m) in a seed round led by Veg Capital, and plans extensive growth into US and international markets.
The fresh funds will be used by the social media star to support greater capacity, team building, marketing, R&D and upscaling of the business in international markets, following a massively successful 2021 that saw growth into mainland Europe and mainstream retail expansion into the UK’s biggest supermarket Tesco.
“Huge interest from investors”
Veg Capital, which also invested in VFC’s earlier seed round in March of last year, is an ethical fund which donates all profits to animal charities and provides early-stage capital to companies working to remove animals from our food systems. As such, VFC says that the two organisations are perfectly mission-aligned, though a larger Series A round will potentially take place next year with a view to bringing in outside investors, following significant interest.
Glover states: “There has been huge interest from investors and we’re very grateful for that. By working with Veg Capital we’ve been able to focus purely on scaling the business as fast as possible to take advantage of the opportunity.”
US expansion plans
VFC exhibited at last month’s Plant Based World Expo in New York, and the event generated so much interest that the founders were convinced to abandon their incremental approach to a US launch, and focus on more ambitious and fast-paced targets. The US strategy begins with the search for a US general manager to fast-track growth in North America where major listings are already in the pipeline.
VFC’s Commercial Director Stewart McGuckin states: “The reception from both customers and consumers has been incredible, and the successful Tesco launch has allowed us to secure listings in more of the UK’s top four grocers, as well as the largest food service wholesalers. Expansion within the UK has been phenomenal, and we are also seeing strong international demand, particularly from the US.”
Says Cliff Johnson of Veg Capital: “The rapid expansion of VFC has been exciting to see, and Veg Capital is delighted to support this young company as it hits its stride. My wife and I have been so impressed that we’ve chosen to reinvest through our private fund Johnson Resolutions as well.”
“We are determined to play our part in ending the suffering of animals in factory farms.”
Adam Lyons, VFC’s co-founder, chef and COO, is currently working on the third iteration of VFC chick*n to bring the texture and flavour even closer to animal-based chicken. “Our recent poll revealed that more than two thirds of people would be willing to trade meat from animals for plant-based meat if it tasted as good. That’s very encouraging for our mission. Already, we’ve spared 60,000 birds but, as that is just the number of animals crammed inside two sheds, we have a long way to go. Still, we have an incredibly driven team, all 100% committed to doing good in this world, and we are determined to play our part in ending the suffering of animals in factory farms.”