Earlier this month, allplants announced the completion of a £3.4 million funding round on investment platform Seedrs, attracting over 1,800 investors from its loyal customer base, in addition to VC firm Octopus Ventures.
As with any fast-growing startup, the round marked a win for the meal delivery company, which has earmarked funds to develop new food categories and serve over 60,000 meals a week. But beyond that, it highlighted something much bigger.
In smashing the UK record for the biggest ever vegan crowdfunding campaign, it also demonstrated just how fierce consumer demand for plant-based products has become.
The multi-billion-dollar plant-based food market is booming, and allplants’ mission to mainstream the movement, by making it easier and more exciting for consumers, is fast becoming one of the driving forces.
Since launching in 2017, the B-Corp led by brothers Alex and JP Petrides has served over 1 million meals, opened a 20,000 square foot kitchen dedicated to plant-based innovation, and raised a further £7.5 million in funding from lead investors including Octopus Ventures and Felix Capital — the venture fund behind GOOP and Deliveroo. And that’s just the beginning.
By 2025, allplants aims to develop distribution partnerships and launch into new markets in Europe and North America, as it continues to work towards not only changing the narrative around plant-based eating but the food system as a whole.
Here Alex Petrides reveals what started it all, how allplants holds itself accountable and why the future of plant-based eating rests on creating change, not just leveraging it.
On ideas and inspiration……….
Four and a half years ago my brother and I coincidentally changed our diets overnight, he became a vegetarian and I went fully vegan. We were interested in the health side of things but more so were blown away by the impact that meat consumption and general agriculture were having on our planet, and the role eating more plants could have on that.
That was our real stake in the ground. It made us interested in experimenting both from a recipe and ingredients perspective and by learning more about the health benefits and challenges, which are always something to consider.
So we kind of just tumbled down the rabbit hole of curiosity about how the world will eat more plants in the future, which led us to think about how we could be a part of accelerating that evolution.
On turning passion into profession……….
We started by hosting a series of supper clubs where we would get friends together to talk about their diets. At the time lots of them thought we’d lost the plot because four and half years ago plant-based eating wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now — it was a very nascent movement.
We were trying to make it normal and mainstream, and understand the challenges attached to it. We wanted to make people understand what a plant-based meal could look like and our vision from that point onwards revolved around how we could inspire the planet to eat more plants.
At first we thought maybe we needed to set up a restaurant but we realised if we had a kitchen we could serve the whole country, so since then, we’ve been really focused on that.
We’ve now built such a foundational part of both the way we make our food and the team behind it –– from a creativity and nutrition perspective and from a professional perspective — that we’re finally starting to get the bandwidth to take that vision one step further.
We’ve always been about trying to lead the way in showing people they can switch once or twice a week to eating more plants, so that’s the ultimate goal.
On creating change rather than leveraging it………..
We’ve been really deliberate in building a team and culture that is all about innovation. So part of what we’re doing at allplants is creating a workspace where people can create and build.
But beyond that, what we’re really doing is trying to look at the food system as a whole to figure out how we can create change rather than just looking at a trend and jumping on the back of it.
For example, our Head of Sustainability is starting to analyse our whole supply chain, and thinking about how we work with farmers to look at ways they can introduce more veg and regenerative farming into their businesses too.
On bridging the intention-action gap……….
Because we’re a direct to consumer business, our customers and community are key –– we’re not just another product on the shelf, we’re actually learning from them.
One of the things we’re doing at the moment is building technology to learn about what habits and challenges are making people introduce more plants more regularly into their diets. This will help us to make plant-based eating easier and hopefully more exciting for consumers. This is something we’re really passionate about.
We’re still in the early days of what we’re doing but our momentum is driven by selling more plants, so creating those nudges and making people understand how they can eat a plant-based diet in an uncompromising way is super important.
On staying accountable whilst scaling………….
Operating as a B-Corp is a very big part of what we do. When we started thinking about launching allplants we were very clear that we were going to become a B Corp from early on. We knew it would hold not just us but future team members accountable to the fact that what we’re doing isn’t about rinsing the market for all its worth, but about creating a more sustainable food system.
As a maker of food, running a big kitchen that makes thousands and thousands of meals a week is really hard –– it challenges us all the time.
Packaging is a particularly hard area. From day one we’ve offered free returns on all of our delivery boxes and that is a loss-making exercise but we do it because we know it’s the right thing to do. And as we scale there is so much more we want to do because we know it’s the right thing to do, even though it will be difficult.
But having that tension (in want of a better word) within the company holds us true to what we really want to create. It means when we’re trying to make decisions led by wanting to grow our customer base or trying to appeal to people, it pushes us to ask ourselves ‘is this the right thing, is this actually going to help build a better food system?’
Sometimes that can slow down decisions but ultimately it helps us make better ones.
On navigating crowdfunding……….
We’re so excited about our customers and community becoming owners — it’s something that we’ve always wanted to be part of allplants.
And we’re over the moon with the response we’ve had. It’s unbelievable we raised £2 million in 48 hours. But we’re here to inspire the planet to eat more plants, making plant-based living the future, and like any movement, that requires a lot of people to get behind it.
On building a business for the future landscape………..
Expanding internationally is something that’s on the horizon, as is looking at working with other retailers, but it isn’t something we’re focused on today.
We’re certainly laying tracks for it, but there’s so much more to do in the UK first, and really what we’re trying to do over the next couple of years is build out a really strong range and set of food products and services that inspire people to eat more plants.
On the meal delivery side, we’ve got a whole host of new dishes that we’ve been cooking up which are soon to be arriving. But although people from the outside might see allplants as a meal delivery hub, we’re also working on lots of innovation that will change that narrative and redefine the brand.