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July 24, 2024

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A Silent Night in the Plant-Based Sector (Sector Roundup: Week 18)

Leading up to Christmas and the New Year, the market has been so quiet you could hear a stock drop from a mile away. As for the plant-based sector, things have been equally as quiet, with only a handful of relevant news breaching the surface. One such news release involves Future Meat Technologies, an Israel-based cell-cultured meat company. Future Meat recently announced that it will be bringing its products to the United States. The news comes shortly after the company raised a sizeable investment of $347 million from its latest series-b funding round to develop a production facility.

While cell-cultured meat looks good on paper, it comes with its own controversies. After all, the production of cultured meat still involves slaughter. Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is extracted from fetal calves and is commonly used for cell growth. However, the pregnancy status of a cow is usually unknown until after it has been slaughtered. When the fetus is exposed, FBS samples are not gathered until the fetus dies inside the uterus or has been immediately euthanized. Sound peachy, right?

That being said, how does the cultured meat market compare to the plant-based market? According to Markets and Markets, the Global Cultured Meat Market is estimated to reach USD$214 million in 2025 and is projected to reach USD$593 million by 2036. From 2025 to 2032, this market is expected to exhibit a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.7%, fueled by startups like Future Meat entering the market. On the contrary, the Global Plant-Based Food Market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2027 and is projected to reach $74.2 billion by 2027.

Mosa Meats created the first lab-grown beef burger in 2013 at a cost of $280,400. That’s a damn expensive burger. However, the average cost of producing a kilogram of lab-grown meat is now approximately $112, demonstrating a substantial price decline in recent years. Still, unless cultured meat can match the price of plant-based alternatives, the cultured meat market will continue to be overshadowed by the plant-based market. With this in mind, in this week’s plant-based sector roundup, we will be discussing companies with unique footholds in the plant-based market.

Beyond Meat Inc.

  • $4.28B Market Capitalization

Beyond Meat Inc. (BYND.Q) is an industry leader in plant-based protein, offering a beefy portfolio of products made from simple ingredients without GMOs, bioengineered ingredients, hormones, antibiotics, or cholesterol. Beyond Meat Inc. and Impossible Foods Inc. were pioneers of the plant-based sector, ushering in an era of sustainable, ethically sourced, delicious meat alternatives.

Furthermore, Beyond Meat has certainly been doing its part to lower its environmental impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, water use, and land use associated with the production of the Company’s Beyond Burger.  According to a study published by the Center for Sustainable Systems, the production of the Beyond Burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less energy, has >99% less impact on water scarcity, and 93% less impact on land use than a ¼ pound of U.S. beef.

Latest News

Most recently, on December 20, 2021, Beyond Meat announced that it has finalized the lease for a new, state-of-the-art R&D center in Shanghai, China as part of its larger global expansion strategy. Since the Company entered China last year, Beyond Meat has focused on scaling its distribution as well as increasing operational efficiency via the opening of an advanced manufacturing plant in Jiaxing. This represents Beyond Meat’s first end-t0-end manufacturing facility outside of the United States.

“The best-in-class R&D team we are building in Shanghai represents the next leg in our journey to become a global protein company…This new resource will enable us to more precisely serve the palate of the Chinese consumer and contribute directly to the culture’s delicious cuisine while joining our global effort to deliver plant-based meats that are indistinguishable from, healthier than, and over time, priced at parity with their animal protein equivalents,” said Dr. Dariush Ajami, Chief Innovation Officer, Beyond Meat.

Beyond Meat’s latest facility will serve as a hub for innovation, backed by a world-class team of scientists and researchers committed to developing high-quality plant-based meat products catered towards customers and consumers in the Asia-Pacific region. With this in mind, the innovation center will enable Beyond Meat to increase the speed and efficiency in which the Company can bring to market products for customers in Asia. This includes Beyond Meat’s Beyond Pork™, the Company’s first innovation created specifically for the Chinese market.

Beyond Meat’s innovation center will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge lab facilities, including a pilot lab and sensory testing capabilities. Additionally, a test kitchen will allow chefs and culinary experts to experiment with new products. This facility is expected to open in the first half of 2022.

On December 16, 2021, Beyond Meat announced the appointment of Jorg Oostdam to the newly created leadership position of General Manager, Europe. Global demand for plant-based meat has increased substantially, with the European plant-based food sector growing by 49% in the last few years. With this in mind, Mr. Oostdam will be based in the Netherlands and start with the Company in February 2022. Ultimately, Mr. Oostdam’s appointment is intended to drive Beyond Meat’s expansion in Europe.

Vejii Holdings Ltd.

  • $21.01M Market Capitalization

Vejii Holdings Ltd. (VEJI.C) is a North American, online plant-based, sustainable products marketplace, headquartered in Kelowna, British Columbia (BC). Vejii operates its online marketplace ShopVejii.com in both Canada and the United States (US), along with VeganEssentials.com, an online vegan grocer. The Company is committed to providing its customers with easy access to thousands of plant-based and sustainable living products from hundreds of vendors through a centralized, online shopping experience.

By leveraging logistics infrastructure and distribution network technology integrations, Vejii is able to support its vendors and improve customer experience. Furthermore, Vejii utilizes technology to connect buyers with the products and brands they want. To be specific, the Company uses the data gathered from its marketplace to inform every aspect of Vejii’s business, including expansion plans and investments.

Latest News

Most recently, on December 23, 2021, Vejii announced that it has entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire VEDGEco, a leading online business-to-business (B2B) wholesale platform for plant-based products. Launched in 2020, VEDGEco is the first nationwide plant-based wholesaler offering a selection of plant-based options that are easy to prepare. The company ships frozen plant-based products in bulk to restaurants and the wholesale food industry, as well as to consumers across the United States.

“VEDGEco launched as one of the first online wholesale platforms dedicated to providing restaurants and independent grocers with a large selection of high-quality plant-based options…This meant that small business owners could at last gain access to a large selection of plant-based products and ingredients without the requirements that typical larger national distributors have in place, such as large minimum order sizes,” said Kory Zelickson, CEO of Vejii.

VEDGEco’s key personnel are expected to continue to run the company’s operations following its acquisition, which is expected to close on or around December 31, 2021. In addition to providing VEDGEco’s existing offering of wholesale plant-based products, Vejii is now able to significantly expand VEDGEco’s product selection by leveraging its existing case-lot purchasing and expanding the range of products on its platform through VEDGEco.

Ultimately, the acquisition of VEDGEco is expected to significantly augment Vejii’s offering of plant-based brands, which currently leverage the Company’s platform for sales, marketing, order fulfillment, and distribution across the US and Canada via Vejii Fulfillment Services. For more details regarding Vejii’s acquisition of VEDGEco, check out this article.

Boosh Plant-Based Brands Inc.

  • $17.465M Market Capitalization

Boosh Plant-Based Brands Inc. (VEGI.C) is a plant-based food company offering high-quality, non-GMO, gluten-free, and nutritional comfort foods. The Company was built upon the desire to help health-conscious consumers meet their goals by providing convenient plant-based meals for people who found it challenging to prepare meals from scratch.

Boosh has developed six 100% plant-based, heat-and-serve bowls for one and entrees for two. Additionally, the Company has formed alliances with Beyond Meat Inc. and Buy BC, a province-wide marketing program characterized by marketing activities, retail partnerships, promotional activities, and events.

Latest News

Most recently, on December 22, 2021, Boosh provided a variety of sales updates relating to new accounts, recent sales performance, and key highlights pertaining to estimated retail sales for Q1 2022. Over the past 90 days, Boosh has added 75 new accounts in Canada, averaging 25 new stores every month. Some key new regional accounts added include Natures Emporium, Ontario, and Community Natural, Alberta.

“We’ve increased our new store count over the past 90 days from approximately 15 new stores per month to 25 per month, and we’re projecting 50 new stores per month by mid-year. Our newly hired North American sales manager, TJ, will be traveling extensively throughout January in the US and meeting with US grocery chain buyers…One of the many assets TJ brings to Boosh is his deep relationships with senior Canadian and US grocery chain buyers,” states founder and president, Connie Marples.

Nature’s Emporium offers more than 35,000 natural and organic products, ranging from organic foods, vitamins and supplements, whole body, and home care products. Similarly, Community Natural carries over 15,000 products ranging from deli to dairy, including organic, locally-sourced, fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, supplements, body, and home care products.

Referring back to Boosh’s latest news, the Company also announced that it is now in Thrify Foods’ planogram for 28 stores in Western Canada. Keep in mind, Thrify Food is part of the Sobeys family of stores, the second-largest food retailer in Canada, with over 1,500 stores operating across the country under multiple banners. Additionally, Metro Ontario secured retail price reductions on Boosh’s bowls from $8.99 to $6.99, which is anticipated to accelerate sales and expand the Company’s consumer base.

Regarding Boosh’s sales performance, the Company’s monthly sales are up 442% compared to similar periods in 2020. In addition to monthly sales, Boosh’s year-to-date sales are up 269% compared to the similar period in 2020. Looking forward, Boosh is in discussions with major US sales accounts. Furthermore, the Company is also conducting Canada National Account sales meetings with major retailers, including Loblaws, Sobeys, and Save On Foods. Lastly, Boosh announced that it is launching its refrigerated line at Metro, Ontario locations, totaling 235 stores.

On December 15, 2021, Boosh announced that on January 24, 2022, the Company will begin to provide direct access to the Company’s plant-based brands directly through its website, Booshfood.com. This is intended to simplify the process by which customers can purchase the Company’s 24 SKUs, including Boosh’s frozen line, refrigerated entrees, and its new shelf-stable plant-based Mac & Cheeze.

Having over 49,000 visitors to Booshfood.com in less than a year of which approximately 40,000 were unique/new visitors is an outstanding accomplishment for our team. And the fact that over 99% of our traffic source was organic as opposed to displaying ads is a tremendous accomplishment. As we reach our 2022 goal of doubling our unique visits, we recognize the importance to convert our website from a “passive” experience to an active one,” commented CEO Jim Pakulis.

Home delivery offered through the Company’s website is expected to drastically expand Boosh’s existing eCommerce presence. In addition to Boosh’s frozen line, refrigerated entrees, and shelf-stable Mac & Cheeze, the Company intends to include the full line of SaltSprings vegetable pates and the Pulse Speciality Kitchen line of plant-based cheeses. Shortly after, Boosh will offer its line of refrigerated entrees including Sloppy Joe, Chili, and Mushroom Gravy.

The Planting Hope Company Inc.

  • $29.016M Market Capitalization

The Planting Hope Company Inc. (MYLK.V) develops, launches, and scales plant-based and planet-friendly food & beverage brands. The Company’s products are intended to fill key unmet needs in the plant-based market. Founded by experienced food industry entrepreneurs, Planting Hope is a women-managed and led company, focused on three impact pillars, including nutrition, sustainability, and representation. Having now gone public, the Company’s Board of Directors will be one of the first all-women Boards on the TSX Venture Exchange.

Planting Hope’s flagship brand, Hope and Sesame, represents the first commercially available sesame milk worldwide. Unlike other dairy alternatives in the market, Hope and Sesame products are nutritionally comparable to dairy milk, containing 8 grams of complete protein and all 9 essential amino acids. Additionally, Hope and Sesame products are an excellent source of Vitamin D and contain 30% more calcium than most dairy milk products.

Moreover, Planting Hope’s Hope and Sesame products have obtained a variety of awards, including the 2020 Sofi Award for Best Plant-Based Milk and the Progressive Grocer 2021 Best New Product Award. Hope and Sesame products come in three varieties including Unsweetened, Original, and Chocolates. In addition to being nutritionally comparable to dairy milk, sesame milk requires very little water and resources to cultivate. In fact, sesame requires 95% less water than almond milk and 75% less water than oat milk to produce.

Latest News

Most recently, on December 20, 2021, Planting Hope announced that it is expanding its product portfolio and distribution partnership with The Kroger Co. (KR.NE). Currently, Kroger offers the Company’s Hope and Sesame® organic sesame milk in shelf-stable cartons. These cartons are available in three different flavors including Original, Unsweetened, and Chocolate.

Kroger will be the first retailer to introduce Planting Hope’s Hope and Sesame® Non-GMO Verified sesame milk in 48 oz refrigerated bottles. Currently, Kroger is launching Unsweetened Original and Unsweetened Vanilla sesame milk into the refrigerated non-dairy section at select Fred Meyer, Ralphs, King Soopers, and Mariano’s locations.

Entering Kroger with our brand-new Non-GMO Verified refrigerated lineup of Hope and Sesame® sesame milk marks an important milestone for Planting Hope as we continue to scale operations and rapidly expand our retail footprint,” said Julia Stamberger, CEO and Co-founder of Planting Hope.

The Kroger Co. (KR.NE) is the largest supermarket by revenue in the United States and the second-largest general retailer. In total, Kroger boasts nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states under two dozen banners. The company operates a variety of formats including supermarkets, eCommerce, warehouse stores, and multi-department stores, which feature an expanded variety of national brand apparel and general merchandise. Moreover, Kroger achieved annual sales of more than $132.5 billion in 2020, solidifying the company’s #17 ranking on the Fortune 100 list published June 2021.

Kroger will be the first retailer to introduce Planting Hope’s Hope and Sesame® Non-GMO Verified sesame milk in 48 oz refrigerated bottles. Currently, Kroger is launching Unsweetened Original and Unsweetened Vanilla sesame milk into the refrigerated non-dairy section at select Fred Meyer, Ralphs, King Soopers, and Mariano’s locations.

On December 9, 2021, Boosh announced, subject to regulatory approval, that it has retained Independent Trading Group Inc. (ITG) to provide marketing services in accordance with the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV). ITG will trade shares of Boosh on the TSXV and all other trading venues with the objective of maintaining a reasonable market and improving the Company’s subordinate voting shares’ liquidity.

ITG is Canada’s only brokerage firm dedicated specifically to professional trading. Through its Market Making and Liquidity Provider services, the firm employs real traders and provides real liquidity, with an underlying emphasis on “integrity and success.” ITG is a member of IIROC, CIPF, the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the Canadian Securities Exchange. Presently, the firm operates out of two offices in the Greater Toronto Area, employing more than 20 Capital Markets professionals.

Under the agreement, ITG will receive compensation of CAD$7,000 per month, payable monthly in advance. The agreement is for an initial term of three months and will renew for additional one-month terms unless terminated. The agreement may be terminated by either party with notice of 30 days. It is worth noting that there are no performance factors contained in the agreement and ITG will not receive shares or options as compensation.

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