A law firm connected with The Meatless Farm Co. has declined to comment on speculation the UK business has collapsed, with staff posting on social media of redundancies at the meat-free company.
According to the Caseboard legal data website, Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang (CMS) is representing Meatless Farm regarding a “notice of intention to appoint an administrator” posted on 31 May.
“To confirm, we don’t have any comment on this,” a spokesperson at the UK office of CMS said in an emailed response to Just Food.
Morten Toft Bech, the Danish national who founded the business in 2016, had not replied to a LinkedIn request for comment at the time of publication.
Meatless Farm, which supplied the major UK supermarkets and also had listings overseas, posted a net loss of £23.5m ($29.5m) in the year to 31 December 2021, wider than a £15.4m loss in the preceding 12 months, according to the most recent accounts filed with Companies House in London.
Turnover was £12.5m but with an operating loss of £22.9m. Total assets were listed as being £29.2m with £8.9m in liabilities.
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Meatless Farm redundancies
Judging by postings on LinkedIn from what now appear to be former employees, staff have been made redundant, although Just Food is unable to verify the accuracy of the claims and the number of staff involved.
Tim Offer, the UK-based commercial and sales director, posted: “Sadly, my time at Meatless Farm has come to an end. After a fantastic ten months leading a talented and highly engaged sales team, the business has unfortunately made all the teams redundant.”
John Loughrey, a ‘professional finance interim’, said: “Sadly, things have not worked out for The Meatless Farm so I am now looking for my next assignment, as will numerous other colleagues.
“It is a shame the company has not made it through this difficult period and I wish all my former colleagues the best of luck for the future.”
Michelle Roberts, a UK marketing manager at Meatless Farm, posted that she is searching for a new role after just five months with the business, which is based in the northern English city of Leeds.
Nick Cooney, a managing partner at US-based alternative-protein investor Lever VC, had predicted some privately-owned UK meat-free businesses might face challenges amid slowing category growth and previous overblown assumptions of the growth potential.
Speaking to Just Food last year as Canadian plant-based business The Very Good Food Company went to the wall, Cooney said some of those companies “might run into issues”, particularly as credit markets started to tighten in the inflationary and higher interest rate environment.
Meatless Farm had previously secured backing from the likes of private-equity fund Stray Dog Capital and Swiss investment company Beyond Impact. In 2019, the business received an unquantified “seven-figure” investment from TV broadcaster Channel 4 via its Commercial Growth Fund in return for an undisclosed stake in the company.
The plant-based business pocketed $31m in September 2020, adding to a previous $17m funding round. The Danish publication Borsen, quoting Toft Bech, reported in 2020 that the company was after additional cash, equivalent at the time to $70m.
As well as UK listings with Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons, Meatless Farm was also supplying markets in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the Benelux countries, Sweden, the Baltic states, Spain, Switzerland and Malta. And outside of Europe, the US, Canada, the UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.
It also had offices in Amsterdam, New York and Singapore. However, whether those markets and offices are still on the books cannot be verified by Just Food.