Yorkshire is turning into the UK’s vegan Silicon Valley as Mighty leads the way

Plant-based milk brand Mighty has raised £8m in new capital as it prepares to launch a third generation vegan milk that tastes just like the real thing into the big four supermarkets.

Mighty was founded by Yorkshire brothers, Tom and Nick Watkins

The Leeds-based firm is also looking at launching plant-based ice-creams and milkshakes which will feature carbon labelling so consumers can see their sustainability credentials.

Mighty said that Yorkshire is fast becoming the UK’s plant-based Silicon Valley as the region has seen a huge increase in successful vegan brands such as Meatless Farm and Northern Bloc.

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The firm was founded by Yorkshire brothers, Tom and Nick Watkins. Both are passionate about Yorkshire being the catalyst for change in the UK’s food sector.

Mighty will be selling its new products in the big four grocers

Tom said: "Next door we've got vegan ice-cream manufacturer Northern Bloc and we've got Meatless Farm over the road. The talent here is fantastic.

"People, particularly retailers, scoffed at us a bit for being from Yorkshire and the North, but actually there is a great contingent of talent up here. We're seeing a lot of really innovative and interesting meat-free, dairy-free, plant-based Silicon Valley-type companies popping up."

Mighty will be selling its new products in the big four grocers - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons.

The firm believes that environmental labelling on food should become a mandatory requirement and the COP26 agenda missed an open goal by not placing food and drink high on the agenda.

Tom said: "COP26 was such a missed opportunity. Every single category in the supermarket has dairy-free or meat-free alternatives.

"You see the sustainability credentials on them and the fact that it was omitted at COP26 was for us personally, heartbreaking."

Nick said: "We are calling for food and drink to be included in COP27.

"We have an eco deck on our packs. In the same way you have a nutritional deck, we've got a complete product life cycle that's been done in partnership with Oxford University, Mondra and Foundation Earth.

"We have a full cradle to end of life analysis of what the eco impact of our products is, not just in terms of carbon but in terms of water use, bio-diversity, land use, etc.

"We are really proud of our eco credentials. Two of the biggest things that people can do to have a positive impact on the environment is to consume less meat and drink less dairy."

The brothers are calling on Yorkshire firms to raise their game and reduce carbon emissions.

Nick said: "It's not just about highlighting areas that you're great in, it's about areas where there is room for improvement.

"Can they source more local ingredients? Can they reduce how far those ingredients are travelling?

"It keeps everybody laser focussed on doing the best they possibly can to create the most sustainable and environmentally friendly products."

Tom added: "It also helps prevent greenwashing, which is something we're seeing more and more big companies try to get away with."

Greenwashing means pretending to be more environmentally friendly than you really are.

The brothers said that the business opportunity is huge, with over half of consumers wanting to buy more sustainably. They added that the Government's ambitious targets on emissions mean that food and drink must play a role in the big changes needed.

Nick said: "We've got a new range of products coming out in January that use next generation technology - the third generation of plant milk.

"Generation One was mixing raw materials such as oats and water to create an oat milk. Generation Two is where the entire market is now - using plant based materials and mixing them with flavour technology to create something that tastes more like milk.

"The third generation of dairy alternatives, which we're launching with the major retailers in January, is a hyper realistic milk using precision fermentation technology.

"That creates a product that looks like milk, tastes like milk and acts like milk. It's got just the 'mouth feel' that you'd expect to get with milk.

"We'll be launching a semi-skimmed milk and a whole milk, so the green and blue variants you'd expect to find in the supermarket, but they'll be completely plant based. "We're also going to be launching a new barista milk - one that can work at a professional standard in tea and coffee."

One in three consumers now drink plant milk and the market is expected to more than double to over £700m by 2025, according to the Vegan Society.

Mighty's vision is to convert a million new consumers to plant milk, which will have a significant impact on their carbon footprint.

Tom said: "We want to apply this technology to various products such as milkshakes and ice-creams.

"We're also looking at cream. Cheese is a trickier one to make, but we're investigating it."

Tom said that the big audience for Mighty is dairy drinkers.

"We want to educate them and say, give this a try because firstly it's fantastic and secondly, we've got all these environmental, sustainable and nutritional credentials," he said.

Mighty is a Tesco incubator brand following in the footsteps of brands like Fever-Tree, Proper-Corn, This and Grenade.

Nick said: "Tesco have been very supportive of what we're doing. The retailers are all very excited about the fact that there is new technology available in the market."

Mighty recently changed its name from Mighty Pea.

Nick said: "We realised there is a potential barrier because people connected us with something green that tastes like peas, which our products absolutely are not. We use split yellow peas."

The brothers have brought new investors in as part of the £8m fundraising to support the new launch.

Nick said: "It's about getting the message out there to consumers that we have a super realistic milk.

"It's very exciting that two brothers from Yorkshire have an exciting new product launch across the UK."

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