Market & Trends

Navigating Turbulence: 8 Plant-Based Brands Riding the Crest, Not Weathering the Storm

While some brands are struggling in the current economic climate (both plant-based and conventional), many are not just surviving but thriving, expanding into new markets and raising large sums of funding. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest industry success stories of 2023.

Konscious Foods

Canada’s Konscious Foods raised $26 million in seed funding at the beginning of this month, with the aim of making its plant-based seafood more widely accessible. The company now plans to launch at over 4,500 more stores across North America by the end of the year, while also expanding into more food service locations.

Vegan Frozen Sushi
©Konscious Foods

The seafood alternatives are already available at all Whole Foods locations US-wide, and one investor says it expects Konscious Foods to “transform plant-based food and the seafood industry”.

Stay tuned for our upcoming Q&A with the company’s founder and president, industry figure Yves Potvin.

DUG

DUG, the unique potato-based milk alternative developed by Sweden’s Veg of Lund, continues to go from strength to strength. The brand recently expanded as far afield as China and Japan, after improving its recipe and securing a patent earlier this year. DUG has also seen huge success in the UK, with its sales at supermarket chain Waitrose increasing by almost 50% last year.

In an interview, DUG told vegconomist it was “creating a whole new subcategory of plant-based milk”.

Veg of Lund, DUG's parent company receives patent approval for potato ice cream
© DUG

Prime Roots

Prime Roots, a US producer of mycelium-based deli meats, secured $30 million in a Series B round earlier this year. The raise took the company’s total funding to $50 million. Prime Roots says it will use the capital to expand to deli counters and restaurants nationwide, reporting that its products already consistently sell out before lunchtime at retail locations. Sales are reported to be five to ten times higher than for other meat alternatives.

Neat Burger

Plant-based burger chain Neat Burger has been backed by notable figures such as F1 driver Lewis Hamilton and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The chain recently raised $18 million after opening its first US location, and reports that sales at the restaurant have beaten expectations. Performance is also excellent at Neat Burger’s eight London locations, with like-for-like sales up 20% in the first quarter of 2023.

The chain plans to use the funding to continue expanding its global reach; it has already opened a restaurant in Dubai, and plans to expand into other Middle Eastern locations and Italy.

Neat Burger Nolita
Credit: Vito Oliva, image supplied

Actual Veggies

Consumers increasingly appear to be demanding more whole food plant-based options, which may account for the huge 338.2% growth experienced by US-based Actual Veggies over the past year. The brand offers burgers made using exclusively whole vegetables, grains, and spices, and reports that revenue is consistently doubling annually.

After appearing on the QVC home shopping channel, Actual Veggies sold $75,000 worth of products in under eight minutes, and the brand is now available at major retailers such as Kroger, Costo, and The Fresh Market.

In a Q&A with vegconomist, co-founders Jason Rosenbaum and Hailey Swartz explained: “We are a fast-growing startup run by a team that has proven we can make things happen! We have amazing in-store data and continue to succeed in multiple channels such as natural, conventional and online. We have a ton of new products in the pipeline.”

Actual Veggie Burgers Expand Report 300% growth
©Actual Veggies

ENOUGH

The popularity of mycoprotein as a meat alternative shows no signs of slowing down, as evidenced by the €40 million recently secured by Netherlands and UK-based ENOUGH. The food tech company has now raised a total of over €95 million, and will use the funding to increase the production of its mycoprotein ingredient, ABUNDA. ENOUGH eventually plans to produce 60,000 tonnes of the protein per year — the equivalent of one cow’s worth of protein every two minutes. The company also intends to double its workforce.

Umami United

Japan’s Umami United, which develops plant-based egg alternatives, recently raised JPY 240 million ($1.64 million) in a pre-Series A round, in alignment with the growth of interest in egg alternatives in the Japanese market.

The company intends to use the funding to increase its R&D capabilities in order to develop an egg white replacer for the bakery and confectionery industries. The capital will also allow Umami United to accelerate its expansion into the US and Europe.

Better Nature co founders
© Better Nature

Better Nature

Consumers are increasingly looking for less processed meat alternatives, and this has benefited UK-based tempeh producer Better Nature. Earlier this year, the company launched a £3 million funding round and secured its first supermarket listing at Tesco. This was followed by a rollout at 966 Lidl stores in July. Better Nature has also expanded into other European countries, including Switzerland and Germany.

In a recent Q&A with vegconomist, Better Nature’s CEO and Co-founder Christopher Kong commented: “It’s a clear sign that the tide is changing, and the market is moving towards more natural and healthful products […] With health being the number one drive for flexitarians to eat meat-free, there’s a huge market opportunity opening up for foods like tempeh, that are pushing boundaries for nutrition and health, and our new listing in Tesco is testament to this.”

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