Farmer J Adds £5.5M, Plots US Expansion

Farmer J

Farmer J is headed to new pastures.

What’s happening: The healthy fast food chain secured £5.5M from venture capital firm Beringea.

Increasing its London footprint from 10 to 15 sites in ’24, the capital will also catalyse the British brand’s move into the US market, starting with East Coast cities New York and Boston.

Giving a fork. Serving freshly sourced food from local high-welfare farms, Farmer J’s ‘field trays’ – a build-your-own offering – provide consumers with better-for-you, grab-and-go meals.

Launched in 2016 to redefine fast food, the concept attracted £2.5M from F&B investor Imbiba in 2019 and further funding from Edition Capital late last year to accelerate growth across London. With proof of concept in place, the company is plotting global growth.

Scaling stateside. Infiltrating America’s billion-dollar fast-food market, European brands are serving up healthy, sustainable and convenient alternatives, to mixed results.

  • The UK’s Pret A Manger plans to increase its US footprint from 58 to 300 stores by 2029, fuelled by a 10% rise in sales across existing sites.
  • Despite plans to launch 15 locations by 2020, British brand Leon shuttered all American outposts in 2021, blaming the pandemic for an 85% downturn in sales.
  • Hitting the US in 2022, Swedish brand Picadeli’s smart salad bars are located in select Schnucks, Albertsons and Safeway stores, with more grocery partnerships planned.

Takeaway: With consumers hungry for healthy quick-serve options, Farmer J has all the ingredients to grow. But with competitors like recently IPO’d CAVA, billion-dollar salad startup Sweetgreen and regional player Dig Inn already established, taking a bite out of the market will require a strong brand identity and localised approach.