Meatless Farm : Founder Morten Toft Bech:  "W...
Meatless Farm

Founder Morten Toft Bech:  "We are not shy"

Meatless Farm
Morten Toft Bech is the founder of UK startup Meatless Farm.
Morten Toft Bech is the founder of UK startup Meatless Farm.

LEEDS The British startup Meatless Farm is entering the German market with its meat alternatives and has ambitious goals. The company wants to be the market leader in Germany in just three to five years.

In an interview with LebensmittelZeitung (LZ), founder Morten Toft Bech explains why he is not afraid of entering the German market and why Meatless Farm is offering Germans a vegetarian curry sausage.

Mister Bech, at the moment the UK is suffering badly from a shortage of long-distance drivers and many a supermarket shelf remains empty as a result. To what extent is the distribution of Meatless Farm products affected by this?
The disruption to supply chains across the board doesn't affect customers so much, but it does affect businesses. Through our ingredients subsidiary, Lovingly Made, we are less dependent on external suppliers and their logistics. Although even this has not completely protected us from impact, we have not experienced any major shortages with our UK retail or foodservice partners.

When it comes to exports, ports are the bottleneck for many UK businesses.
We consider ourselves a European business. That's why in 2020 we opened our head office in Amsterdam and since 2021 we have been manufacturing across the bay in Almere. In addition, we have established close relationships at all levels of the supply chain in mainland Europe.

Your products are already available in 26 countries worldwide. Why are you only now coming to Germany?
Germany is the fastest growing market for meat replacement products in the whole of Europe. But precisely because this market is very important for us, we want to do everything right and not rush into anything. On top of that, Covid has slowed us down a bit.

Germany is nevertheless both a curse and a blessing for food manufacturers: many a manufacturer has fallen flat on its face here. Do you have sleepless nights because of it?
The German market certainly has its pitfalls, but instead of letting doubts hold me back, I prefer to be inspired by the opportunities.
„Our goal is market leadership in the next three to five years.“

What market share are you aiming for in Germany?
Our goal is to be the market leader in the next three to five years.

Last year alone, around 150 new brands or meat substitute products hit German supermarket shelves. Isn't there a risk that supply will grow faster than demand?
The biggest risk is that newcomers have little experience with their own label or that the plant-based products are of poor quality. The fact that there are already a lot of branded suppliers on the German market doesn't cause me much concern.

Why?
In the UK there are now more than 20 brands that are well established and selling in the retail sector. Meatless Farm is currently the third best-known brand for meat substitutes, just behind Quorn and Linda McCartney. But these two brands have also been on the market for decades.

In Germany, most manufacturers of meat alternatives focus on good taste, clean label and, of course, sustainability. How does Meatless Farm stand out from that?
We want to deliver the healthiest and most sustainable products that convince with their taste and texture. On top of that, we have a high level of credibility. From day one, we've worked with scientists from Oxford University to study the environmental impact of our products.

In the UK, Meatless Farm also became known through a cheeky advertising campaign. Will there be something similar in Germany?
We are not shy in Germany either, as you can see from the fact that we are launching a vegan curry sausage in the food service. We've obviously broken a taboo there! (laughs) We're happy to do that.

Where is the line between a business-promoting provocation and a shitstorm?
This line is fluid. In the past, we have successfully implemented campaigns that would no longer work today. Our message is simple, but telling it in an interesting way is the challenge. We've had a lot of ideas, but then we've discarded them.

You have poached several managers from Lidl Netherlands, among others. What can motivate well-paid managers to switch to a startup? Salary certainly not...
Employees - regardless of their level and background - purpose and what we do as a company is becoming more and more important. Our Purpose is very powerful and relevant: If we got more people to eat meatless a few times a week, we could change the future for generations to come - this vision unites us all.

Initially, Meatless Farm products are availableat Kaufland, Real and Gorillas . Why is Meatless Farm not yet listed at Lidl ?
We want to work with the best retailers who share our sustainability goals. And Lidl has an excellent reputation in this area. By the way, we are already working with Lidl in other markets, for example in the UK.

This text first appeared on the German fleischwirtschaft.com sister platform www.lebensmittelzeitung.net.
Source: lebensmittelzeitung.net, fleischwirtschaft.de; dfv Mediengruppe

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