Meatless Farm aims for major national expansion

The Meatless Farm's chief executive, Robert Woodall
The Meatless Farm's chief executive, Robert Woodall
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The Meatless Farm, which makes plant-based, vegan mince and burgers, is in talks with Morrisons and Asda about launching its products in their stores as it embarks on a big expansion drive.

The Leeds-based firm originally launched its products in Sainsbury’s last September and is now in 600 stores.

It is keen to trade with other leading supermarkets and hopes that its position as an expanding Yorkshire-based firm may work in its favour with Bradford-based Morrisons and Leeds-based Asda.

The group’s chief executive, Kellogg’s veteran Robert Woodall, said: “We are in active talks with both Morrisons and Asda which is important for us as a Leeds-based company.

“We are trading well in Sainsbury’s and outselling our targets.”

It is also speaking to pub chains and restaurants with a view to launching its meat free mince and burgers around the country. The group already works with pub chain Greene King.

Meatless will launch its new sausage range in Sainsbury’s in May in time for the barbecue season and plans to launch ready meals later in the year.

The group’s products look and taste like meat and are made from pea protein, brown rice protein and soya protein.

“Our products have the same level of protein as meat, but half the saturated fat,” said Mr Woodall.

“We are trying to replace centre of the plate items.”

“Our vision is to have our products sold in the meat aisle and turn it into a protein aisle. When it is located near meat, that’s when it can expand.”

The group has seen strong demand from consumers who want to eat less meat for both health and ethical reasons. Vegan and vegetarian ranges are seeing an enormous surge in popularity as consumers switch to eating less meat or no meat at all.

“This plant-based trend is really working well with millennials and students. Students are going vegan after their first term at university,” said Mr Woodall.

At the moment Meatless is run from a start up office in The Calls in Leeds where it employs 10 people, but as it expands to 20 people next year it will move to a two-floor office in The Calls and has plans to develop its own laboratory on a top floor office.

“We’ve applied for a grant with Leeds Council and we welcome their support,” said Mr Woodall.

“We aim to grow into an international business.”

The group currently sells its produce in The Emirates, Hong Kong and is looking to ship to Sweden, Holland and Canada in the next few months.

The firm said it created its meatless mince and burgers with everyone in mind – not just vegetarians and vegans, but flexitarians and meat eaters too.

The flavouring contained in Meatless products is a brown powder produced from salt, maltodextrin (a white powder made from potato starch), sunflower oil and Arabic gum (a natural gum consisting of the hardened sap of various species of the acacia tree).

Other ingredients include chicory root fibre, which adds a smooth and creamy texture that works well as a replacement for fat, and coconut oil, which provides healthy benefits and gives Meatless Farm products a juicier consistency. The firm also uses vegetable extracts for colouring.