Matthew Glover | Veg Capital
The managing director of Veg Capital talks about investment opportunities in plant-based businesses with untapped potential
The career path of vegan entrepreneur Matthew Glover has taken a turn. The Veganuary co-founder — the campaign promoting the uptake of a vegan lifestyle — announced this month he is spearheading Veg Capital as managing director.
A new investment company, Veg Capital is dedicated to backing plant-based businesses. The focus is on providing early-stage capital to companies striving to replace the use of animals in the food system.
“The companies we’re investing in have the potential to help fix some of the biggest challenges we face on this planet,” says Glover. “We think that makes the brands in our portfolio pretty special!”
Veg Capital portfolio brands
This month marked the formal launch of Veg Capital, but the VC firm has been in operation since January. Glover explains that investments are being executed across four verticals: food-tech, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), cultivated meat, and convenience.
“Our focus is on the UK and European markets at the moment,” he says, noting the interest in plant-based eating is growing exponentially, with initiatives like Veganuary creating widescale demand for animal-free products.
To this day, there are nine brands in the portfolio:
- Mighty Pea, the UK brand of pea milk
- Plant-based protein shakes Grounded, with first products are set to hit the market his summer
- Family-run vegan chocolate Mummy Meagz
- The VeganKind, a British online supermarket and subscription service
- Plentifull, a vegan business making meal pots and snacks
- Native Snacks, the makers of snacks from popped lotus seeds from India
- One Planet Pizza, a UK business commercialising vegan frozen pizza
- US-based seafood alternative brand Good Catch
- Vevolution, a multimedia and events company.
“Since we launched the fund two weeks ago, we’ve received dozens of pitch decks with some extremely interesting proposals,” Glover reveals. He wouldn’t share details of potential investments at this stage, however. “There’s huge interest in this space from investors,” he says.
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Glover recognises that some of the most prominent trailblazers include Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, JUST, and LiveKindly Co. “At Veg Capital, we hope to help find and support the next generation of plant-based alternative protein innovators.”
Plant-based foods market
In January, more than a thousand new plant-based products and menu items were launched in the UK. This data, Glover says, reflects the continued growth in demand for food in this category.
“The global growth in demand has continued in the wake of the coronavirus, with a drastic increase in retail food sales,” says Glover.
“Plant-based foods are for everyone, not just the small proportion of vegans in the world”Matthew Glover
The Veg Capital investor notes that, according to data commissioned by SPINS in the US, plant-based food sales spiked 90% over the same period a year ago and at the peak of panic buying. That’s 25% higher than total food sales.
“In the four weeks following this period, plant-based food sales grew 27%, which is 35% faster than total retail food,” he observes.
Can the market cope with such a demand? For Glover, plant-based foods are for everyone, not just the small proportion of vegans in the world. The challenge, he believes, is engrained in the food supply chain.
Glover explains that as people become more aware of the problems associated with animal agriculture, the price, availability and taste of plant-based alternatives improve, and thus we see demand increase. “The challenge for many of these start-ups is how they scale up to meet the demand,” he says.
Seafood alternative brands have started to emerge in the market. Having Good Catch in the portfolio of Veg Capital is a testament to the trend.
For Glover, there is a clear need for plant-based seafood options that aid in easing the damage caused by the overfishing of our world’s oceans.
“[Seafood alternative] is a developing market,” he says. “Annual sales of fish substitutes in the US are only around $10 million compared with $800 million for plant-based meat, according to Good Food Institute,” he adds.
Glover is optimistic about the opportunity for Good Catch. “Its plant-based tuna offers the taste, texture, nutrition, and experience of seafood without the adverse environmental harm,” he says.
Glover recognises that he stepped into the investment arena from an activism background. “Underpinning Veg Capital is an ethical and environmental purpose,” he says. “[Our mission] seeks to reduce the burden on our planet, spare the lives of animals and create a sustainable food industry.”
Animal agriculture, Glover says, is a leading driver of climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and species extinction, as well as being a significant cause of pollution. Veg Capital seeks to help tackle these issues through impact investment.
Unlike traditional investment firms, Veg Capital plans to donate all profits to animal protection charities in the UK and across Europe. Glover explains: “We invest in plant-based foods and then through our philanthropy help raise awareness and increase demand for that food. It’s a double whammy of activism.”
Glover knows he has stepped in a new territory and that his network in the vegan community puts him in a privileged position. “As the Japanese proverb states, ‘Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.’ My mind is currently preoccupied with all the opportunities,” he concludes.